Culture and leisure time

Cultural and leisure time activities are important for relaxation, good health, personal development and for an understanding of the surrounding world.
Fötter i det blå

This is what we do

We work to find out what young people do in their leisure time and the ways in which they participate in cultural activities. We do this amongst other things in our annual report entitled Young today.

Fewer young people participate in associations

Leisure time is very important for young people. Young people’s leisure time activities can provide them with opportunities to exert influence and may encourage them to participate in a democratic society and to improve their health.

Our reports Young today 2013 and Focus 10 show that the level of young people’s participation in associations is on the decline.

Although the proportion of young people who participate in associations is in decline, there are still a large number of young people who do participate in various different types of associations. These associations are found in schools, in the young people’s neighbourhoods of residence, in the sports sector and in other places where young people spend their time. Statistics show, for example, that since the year 2000, the proportion of young people aged 7–14 who participate in some form of physical exercise has been relatively constant, whereas this proportion has declined among those aged 15–19, particularly among the boys.

The role of the internet in relation to young people’s influence and welfare

Society is becoming increasingly digitalised and this affects the everyday lives of young people. The internet has become an ever more important meeting place for young people, in the form of social media, online communities and gaming, away from youth clubs and other physical meeting places.

Different forms of social work have also found their way into the online environment in the form of e.g. helplines, online counselling and girls’ support centres. In these ways it is possible for leaders, good role models and professional youth workers to meet the needs of young people and improve their welfare and their opportunities for exercising influence.

The internet has also become a channel for young people to organise campaigns and calls to action and constitutes an additional place for young people to organise themselves, e.g. through the use of online communities.

A need for meeting places for young LGBTQ persons

A large number of young LGBTQ persons express a major need for meeting places that are focused on LGBTQ persons and that have the necessary competence to provide leisure time activities that are open to LGBTQ youth. These activities, including those that take place online, are often perceived as being safe places where everyone can be themselves. One desire expressed by several young LGBTQ persons is that such meeting places should have the inclusion of LGBTQ persons as an explicit goal . It is important that activities make it clear that LGBTQ youths are welcome and that homo-, bi- and transphobia are not accepted. Simple methods, such as putting up rainbow flags in communal spaces and making it clear that there are adults with competence in LGBTQ issues to speak to if problems arise can make a big difference.

If clubs and associations do not feel like places that include LGBTQ youths, if the sports centre is not a place where they feel welcome and are able to be themselves, then they will miss out on access to social contexts in which they can meet friends and establish contacts, not only at the time when this happens, but also later on in life. The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society has been given the task of training people who meet young people in the context of their occupations to create open and unprejudiced environments for young LGBTQ persons.

Culture – a popular leisure time activity

Large numbers of young people spend their time engaging in different forms of cultural activities during their leisure time. They enjoy these activities and want to participate in more.

Everyone should have the right to culture, irrespective of the conditions in their family and where they are growing up. This means that everyone must be able to experience and explore various forms of cultural activities, irrespective of age, gender, possible disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnic, socioeconomic or religious background. Today, however, culture and the opportunity to participate in cultural activities is not available to everyone. There are still inequalities in this regard.