By Dr Meenakshi Upadhyay
There are many different ways in which one spends free time. But has technology changed the way we use our spare time? The entertainment industry is creating various kinds of content for people. How are people spending their leisure time?
Leisure is the time “when one is not working or occupied”. It is the “me” time or the spare time where a person can decide how he wants to spend it. This spare time is important for mental and personal growth. An individual is able to exercise his will to spend time in a particular way, away from the mundane routine of life.
The theories behind leisure
The uses and gratification theory suggest that an individual can choose a media according to his or her need that requires gratification. One may not want to listen to music all the time but would want to watch television, read a book, play football, go horse riding or have a coffee in a café, depending on what one felt like doing at the moment.
According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France devotes maximum time to leisure and personal care as compared to other countries. Mexico and Turkey spend the least. The indicators—leisure and personal care—measure the quality of life and the welfare of citizens by calculating thr number of hours spent on leisure by someone who is a full-time worker.
A study published in Business Standard in August 2000, conducted by the Central Statistical Organisation on Leisure, in the first Time Use Survey in India, indicates that 71% of the time spent by people is on learning, leisure and personal care.
A study conducted by the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program to understand the leisure needs of people suffering from dementia had interesting revelations. They expressed the need to be “me”. They further added that the leisure opportunities should help them connect with friends and family and help them be of use to the community. The leisure programs or activities must let them grow as individuals and encourage them to lead a stress-free life.
All of us need leisure
In spite of the need for leisure, a person may face certain constraints while trying to experience a leisure activity. A study developed a theory to overcome these obstacles and come up with “coping strategies” to over-ride these issues.
Older people have enough spare time on their hands, and how they pass their time is a study in itself. Most elderly people have retired from their work-life and are looking for ways to spend their free time. A study was conducted where elders were asked: “What did you do yesterday in your spare time?” The findings revealed that they spent most of their time watching television—and this was seen across genders.
A study was conducted on ways in which disabled persons spent their leisure time. The findings indicated that people who performed limited daily activities, tend to spend more time watching television, reading a book or listening to radio—all passive forms of recreation. They spent lesser time on active forms of entertainment such as going out to a movie, theatre or any other social event. This difference was evident across demographics.
A 2011 study conducted by OECD across the Asia-Pacific region indicates that people are either spending time watching television, or sleeping or playing a sport. Activities are chosen depending on what gives them satisfaction. However, there is no particular trend on how a particular gender is spending their time.
In 2003, the World youth report of the United Nations suggested that young people spend their free time differently in different countries. Hence, in Kenya, only 10% of the waking hours of children were free as compared to those in urban India where it was 63%.
According to the American Time Use (ATU) Survey 2014, the leisure activity that was most preferred was watching television. Men (a total of 3 hours) watched more television than women (2.6 hours). The other activities were meeting friends and organising or visiting social events.
Knowing what people want
The author conducted a study to examine this phenomenon. The study is too small to be generalised yet the findings were interesting. A convenience sampling was used and a survey was conducted using a Google form. The form was sent out to the researcher’s Facebook friend list, a Facebook community group, Twitter followers and two Whatsapp groups—over a span of three weeks.
The findings indicated that watching television was the most preferred leisure time activity, only next to listening to music. Movies were the most watched category on television. The other category that followed was drama series and news. Other shows that interested audiences included cookery, music, infotainment, comedy, crime and horror.
Mobile has become a preferred medium for listening to music, followed by other mediums such as radio, laptop, iPod, computer and iPad. Mobile appears to be the most preferred medium even for playing online games. Indoor entertainment seems to be more favourable versus playing outdoor sports. There are book lovers who can’t get enough of their hard copy versions, which is an indication that digital books are yet to catch up with the masses. Radio is still preferred to be heard on radio sets than otherwise.
It can be inferred that more leisure time is spent indoors. Watching television appears to be a favourite leisure activity. Mobile entertainment is also slowly picking up. But the television entertainment has definitely made its impact on people.
Entertainment creators can see this as an opportunity for creating diverse content. However, this brings to light that inactive forms of spending leisure time are on the rise. The challenge is to bring a balance between indoor and outdoor forms of leisure to avoid any adverse effect on the health of people glued to the television set.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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