A new study suggests that tweens who participate in certain types of extracurricular activities may be less likely to smoke or drink.
According to U.S. News & World Report Health, Dartmouth College researchers used data from a 2003 survey of over 6,500 U.S. students who had been asked about their various types of extracurricular activities. The students were between the ages of 10 and 14, a group that is often referred to as “tweens.”
More than half of the participants in the survey said they played team sports with a coach (55.5 percent), or without a coach (55.4 percent) a few times per week. About 75 percent of the tweens said they were not engaged in school clubs, but nearly 86 percent said they participated in other clubs.
In addition, about half of the tweens took music, choir, dance, and/or band lessons, and more than half were involved in religious activities a few times per week.
The findings show that, of all the extracurricular activities, only participation in team sports under the supervision of a coach was associated with a lower risk of smoking. Participation in non-school clubs was the only activity associated with a lower risk of drinking.
“How children spend their time matters,” said lead researcher Anna Adachi-Mejia, of Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
“Parents and guardians may think that tweens need less adult supervision when they are not in school,” she added. “However, our research suggests that certain coached extracurricular activities can help prevent tween smoking and drinking.”