Activities & Pro-Social Behaviors

Activities & Pro-Social Behaviors

 

Child

Unless indicated otherwise, the items about activities addressed to children 10 and older are assigned to the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest. These questions were initiated in 1988 with the introduction of the Child Self-Administered Supplement (CSAS), administered to all children 10 and older until 1994, when the Young Adult survey was introduced for children 15 and older. From 1994 on, the CSAS is completed by children who are between the ages of 10 and 14 in the survey year.

After school and summer activities

Beginning with the 1988 child survey, children age 10 and older are asked to enumerate the kinds of activities they engage in after school. They are also asked where they go after school, including home, another person's home, community or sports facility, job, mall or after school facility. Children 10-14 are also asked about their activities on a typical summer day. These variables can be found in the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Computer use

Starting with the 1994 survey round, children age 10 and older are asked a series of questions on their access to a computer at home and at school, and the extent of their computer use. They are asked whether they use a computer to do school work, write papers, correspond, play games and other recreational uses, access the internet, or search for information. The children are asked who helped them learn how to learn computers and whether they themselves have had any special training. Questions about computer use related to work, asked in the YA self-report series, are not asked of children under age 15. Young Adults are asked about accessing the internet while children 10-14 are asked about "surfing the net" and access to "bulletin boards." The child computer questions are assigned to the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Friends and dating

In all survey rounds except 1986, children 10 and older have been asked about their friendships, whether they feel lonely, and how much pressure they feel from friends to engage in anti-social behavior. They are asked how often (if ever) they go out on dates, at what age they started, and whether there are any rules in the family about dating. If there are rules, they indicate how much say they have in making such rules and whether they argue with their parents about dating or parties. Children completing the Child Self-Administered Supplement are asked to express the degree to which they agree with this statement: "It is ok for a girl to ask a boy for a date." See the topical guide section on Dating for information about the pattern of administration by survey year for these items on friendship and dating. Questions about dating are asked in greater detail once the child becomes part of the Young Adult cohort.

TV viewing

Mother-report. Starting with the first Child survey in 1986, questions on television viewing are posed to mothers for each of her children as part of the HOME.

Mothers report the number of hours each child watches television, the number of hours the TV is on in the home, and for children 3 and older, the amount of TV viewing on a typical weekday as well as each weekend day. 

Two items related to TV viewing are incorporated into the Temperament scales for children ages 2 to 6 years:

(1) TEMPERAMENT (24-83 MOS): HOW OFTEN CHILD TURNS OFF TV WITH NO PROTEST
(2) TEMPERAMENT (24-83 MOS): HOW OFTEN CHILD OBEYS WHEN TOLD TO TURN OFF TV

These two items are assigned to the year-specific MOTHER SUPPLEMENT areas of interest. Starting in 2006, these TV "obey" items are consistently named MS-ACT-C05 and MS-ACT-C06.

NOTE: In 1981, the mothers of the NLSY79 children reported on their own daily activities in the past seven days, including time spent watching TV. See question names beginning with TIMEUSE in the NLSY79 dataset.

Child-report. Children age 10 and older indicate in the Child Self-Administered Supplement (CSAS) how much time they spend watching TV on a typical weekday, typical Saturday, and typical Sunday. Children 10 and older also report about family rules governing TV viewing and how much they share with their parents about what they watch. Starting in 2012, a question about hours watching TV or movies in a typical week (CSAS_WEEKLYTV) was added for 14 and 15 year olds, to match the question asked in the Young Adult survey.

All self-reported TV viewing questions can be found in the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Video games

Children 10-14: At the beginning of the Child Self-Administered Supplement (CSAS), starting in 2002, children ages 10-14 report what they like to do after school, with "play video or computer games" as one of the options. The question name for this item is CSAS-P7~000007.

Starting in 1994, children ages 10-14 have been asked what they use the home computer for most often and how often they use a computer to play games.

Starting in 2006, children ages 10-14 have been asked how many hours they play video games on a typical weekday, on a typical Saturday, and on a typical Sunday. The question names for these items are CSAS033VID, CSAS034AVID, and CSAS034BVID.

Starting in 2012, a question about hours playing video games in a typical week (CSAS_WEEKLYVID) was added for 14 and 15 year olds, to match the question asked in the Young Adult survey.

All of the items described above can be found in the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Children 8-14: As part of the SCHOOL section, children report how often parents limit the amount of time the child can spend watching TV or playing video games. In 1996 and 1998, this question was named CS96SCHL-22 and CS98SCHL-22, respectively. Since 2000, this question is named SCHL-22.

Volunteer and community service

Children ages 10 and older have been asked, starting with the 1994 survey, about volunteer work or community service after school. These questions, in the Child Self-Administered Supplement, had only two response choices of "yes" or "no" through 1996. Starting in 1998 and thereafter, the response set for the volunteering questions was converted from a dichotomous format to a 3-point scale to gauge the frequency with which the children perform volunteer activities.

Starting in 1996 in the Child Supplement, school-agers are asked to estimate how often either parent volunteers at their school. Mothers of school-age children are also asked about parent volunteer activities related to the child's classroom or school. With the exception of the 2000 survey year, these mother-report questions about school involvement that are addressed to mothers are found in the MOTHER SUPPLEMENT area of interest. (Only in 2000 are these items in the CHILD SUPPLEMENT area of interest.) In 2004 the child volunteering series was expanded for 14 year olds so that children of that age answered the same question sequence regardless of whether they were interviewed as younger children or young adults. Young adults answer a series of questions about community service in the young adult questionnaire.

Work for pay

Children 10-14 are asked if they do any work for pay, not counting jobs around the house. They list the kinds of jobs and the amount they work and usually earn in a week. In 1990 and 1992 children simply answered whether they worked or not, without specifying their duties. In 1994 children who worked for pay chose from a short list of employment categories. The code categories on this question series have been expanded, starting in 1996, to include babysitting, house cleaning, paper route, yard work for neighbors, house-sitting, fast food work, farm work, clerk or office work, pet care, and construction. For a more detailed description, see the Employers & Jobs (Work for Pay) topical guide section.

Survey Instruments Most questions about activities, pro-social behaviors, and TV viewing are found in the Child-Self Administered Supplement. Additional questions about television, particularly those in the Temperament scales, are included in the Mother Supplement.
Area of Interest CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT
CHILD SUPPLEMENT
MOTHER SUPPLEMENT
ASSESSMENT ITEMS

 

Young Adult

Computer use

Between 1994 and 1998, Young Adults were asked about access to a computer at home, school, or work and the extent to which they used computers. Respondents were asked whether they used a computer to do various activities, including school work, writing papers, correspondence, playing games and other recreational uses, accessing the internet, or searching for information. They were asked who helped them learn how to use computers and whether they themselves had had any special training. 

In 2000, the number of questions about computer usage was greatly curtailed. From 2000 to 2006, Young Adults were asked whether they had access to a computer and, if so, where. They were also asked how frequently they used a computer to do activities related to their school or work, read e-mail, access the internet, write programs and play games. In 2008 and 2010, Young Adults were asked only whether they had access to a computer and, if so, where. Beginning in 2012, these questions are no longer being asked.

In 2004 and 2006, the Young Adult Health section included a summary question asking respondents how many hours in total they spend using a computer in a typical week. Since 2008, two separate questions have been asked: the number of hours in a typical week spent using a computer for work-related activities and the number of hours in a typical week spent using a computer for leisure activities. Since 2006, Young Adults have also been asked in the Self-Report section about how many hours they spend playing video games in a typical week.

Other leisure activities

Since 2000, the Young Adult Self-Report section has included a question about how many hours in a typical week the respondents watch television. In 2012, the wording of this question was updated to ask about watching TV programs or movies, either on a television, computer or mobile viewing device. 

In 2004, a question was added about how often the respondents read for pleasure, including time spent reading books, magazines and newspapers. The wording was augmented in 2010 to remind respondents to include reading in print or on the internet. A further augmentation was made in 2012, so that respondents are now asked how much time they spend reading for pleasure including time spent reading books, magazines, newspapers or other publications, in print, on an e-reader or on the internet.

After school and summer activities

Beginning in 2002, questions about the kinds of activities engaged in after school and during the summer were added to the schooling section of the Young Adult survey. The youngest Young Adults who are still in secondary school are asked where they go after school, including home, another person's home, community or sports facility, job, mall or after school facility, as well as about activities on a typical summer day. These questions parallel those found in the Child Self-Administered Supplement.

Volunteer and community service

Questions on volunteerism have been in asked in every YA survey. From 1994 to 1998, they were part of the Young Adult Self-Report Booklet. When incorporated into the CAPI questionnaire in 2000, they remained substantively intact. These questions include:

  • Whether the young adult had  performed any volunteer or community work in the referenced time period*
  • If so, they were then asked if any of it was:**
    • Strictly voluntary
    • Court ordered
    • Required for one of their classes or sponsored by their school
    • Required or sponsored by their church
    • Required for other reasons
    • They were also asked whether they had been involved in the following types of organizations:
      • Youth organizations
      • Service organizations
      • Political clubs or organizations
      • Church or church-related groups
      • Community centers, neighborhood improvement, or social-action associations or groups
      • Organized volunteer group in a hospital or nursing home
      • Educational organizations
      • A conservation, recycling, or environmental group

*From 1994 to 1998, the referenced time period for the initial question was the last two years. Since 2000, the referenced time period has been "ever" for new Young Adults and "since the date of last interview" for previously interviewed Young Adults. 

**In 2000, 2002 and 2004 questions about reasons for participating in volunteer activities were restricted to new Young Adults. Prior to 2000 and since 2006, these questions have been asked of all Young Adults reporting any volunteer activity.

These long-standing volunteering items were revised and expanded in 2010 after a careful and extensive review of the new volunteerism module in the NLSY79 as well as verbatims collected in the YA survey. Since 2010, the structure and content of the items about volunteerism has been:

  • Whether the young adult has  performed any volunteer or community work in the referenced time period
  • If so, how often they have done this kind of work
  • They were also asked whether they had been involved in the following types of organizations:
    • Youth organizations
    • Service organizations
    • Political clubs or organizations
    • Religious or spiritual organizations, including churches, synagogues, and mosques
    • Community centers, neighborhood improvement, or social-action associations or groups
    • Volunteering in a hospital, nursing home, or retirement community or in a program making home visits to people in need
    • Educational organizations
    • A conservation, recycling, or environmental group
    • A group providing international aid or promoting world peace
    • A group that helps people in need of food, shelter, or other basic necessities
    • Activities related to arts or culture
    • Any other kind of group or organization
    • They were then asked if any of it was:
      • Court ordered
      • Required for one of their classes or sponsored by their school
      • Required or sponsored by a sorority or fraternity
      • Required or sponsored by an employer
      • Required or sponsored by by a religious organization they belong to
      • Because a friend or family member asked them to
      • Because it would look good on a college or job application
      • Required for other reasons
      • Was the main reason they did volunteer work because it was court ordered, required for school, work, or religious group, or because they wanted to

All Young Adults are additionally asked whether in the past 12 months they or their spouse/partner have donated money or goods with a combined value of at least $25 to religious or non-profit organizations such as schools, hospitals, museums, charities, or the United Way. If so, the total value of the money or goods donated in the last 12 months is asked.

Political beliefs and voting behaviors

In 2006, a series of political questions, based on the American National Election Studies (ANES) were added to the Young Adult survey. In 2008, some of these questions remained the same while some questions were removed and new ones added. For example, the 2006 voting behavior question was updated to refer to the 2006 election. Party affiliation and political leaning questions remained the same, but some of the attitudinal and behavioral questions were dropped with others added to replace them. The questions concerning mother's and father's politics during childhood were asked only of those new to the sequence in 2008. 

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: The Child Self-Administered Supplement has included questions on volunteerism since 1994. The 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2014 NLSY79 surveys asked a series of questions on volunteerism, including number of weeks, hours per week, and for what type of organization the NLSY79 respondent volunteered the most hours. In rounds 9, 11, and 15 of the NLSY97, respondents answered questions about participating in unpaid volunteer work, including any activities aimed at changing social conditions. Within the Original Cohort surveys, the Young Women and Mature Women cohorts were asked questions about volunteer work during several survey years.

The 2008 NLSY79 survey included a small number of political attitude and behavior questions based on the American National Election Survey (ANES). In rounds 8, 10, 12, and 14, the NLSY97 collected information on political participation and interest.

From 1994 on, NLSY79 Child respondents answered questions about computer access and tasks performed on the computer. Starting in 2000, NLSY79 respondents were asked if they had a personal computer at home and if they accessed the Internet with that computer. The NLSY97 has included some questions on computer access and use in all survey rounds. Users should consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide for details.

Survey Instruments Questions on pro-social behavior are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Young Adult Self Report Section. Questions about usual activities can be found in Section 4, Regular Schooling.
Area of Interest YA Self Report