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Children & Youth

Purpose, Goals and Objectives

The overall purpose is to enhance the leisure experiences of children and youth worldwide by working for their right to have equitable access to leisure.

This purpose will be pursued through the following objectives:

  • Support and encourage relevant research.
  • Identify and catalog important data related to children and youth.
  • Facilitate dissemination of research findings and other useful data.
  • Develop networks and partnerships with other international organizations.
  • Advocate on behalf of families and local communities who seek to nurture children through leisure.
  • Serve as a resource for other organizations or entities.
  • Provide a context where experts may share their knowledge and support each other.
  • In general, serve as a voice for leisure in those situations where the well being of children is in question.



Current members of World Leisure may indicate their interest in Children and Youth by e-mailing the World Leisure Secretariat at secretariat@worldleisure.org. Former members and other non-members may join World Leisure and indicate their interest in Children and Youth on the Web site at worldleisure.org. Members of World Leisure may become active in Children and Youth by contacting the Chair, Linda Caldwell, at lindac@psu.edu.


Executive Committee

Caldwell, Linda (Commission Chair) 
Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management 
Additional appointment in Human Development and Family Studies 
The Pennsylvania State University , US

Bryce, Joanne 
Director of Research, Cyberspace Research Unit 
School of Psychology 
University of Central Lancaster , UK

Ekesa, Timothy 
Executive Director 
Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR) 
Nairobi , Kenya , Africa

Lee, Kwan Meng 
Youth Programme Development Consultant 
International Youth Centre (IYC) 
Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia

Lyons, Kevin 
Senior Lecturer in Leisure and Tourism Studies 
School of Economic, Politics and Tourism 
University of Newcastle , NSW, Australia

Pereira, Beatriz 

Professor, Institute of Education
Research Centre on Child studies
University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

Sharma, Veena 
Prajna Foundation for Cultural Interaction and Studies 
New Delhi, India

Consistent with the Commission's intents to serve as a resource, we periodically will post literature reviews and information about selected organizations related to children and youth. We will change the postings periodically, and will archive the replaced material in a retrievable form. Past postings including, Current Play Research, Book ReviewPeres Center, and Play for Peace are available here. 

Risk and the Developmental Functions of Technologically-Mediated Leisure for Young People (February 2012)

Jo Bryce


Dr. Jo Bryce is Director of Research at the Cyberspace Research Unit, School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, UK. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Manchester, and a BA Honours Degree in Psychology with International Relations from Staffordshire University. Her research interests focus on the psychological, social and forensic aspects of the Internet and related technologies, with a specific focus on their use by young people, associated risk exposure and esafety.  Dr. Bryce is a member of the Expert Research Panel of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, and regularly consults on associated issues with a variety of stakeholders in government, industry, education and enforcement.  She is a former Coordinator of the UK National Awareness Node for Child Safety on the Internet and the project lead for the recently completed EU funded research projects ISCA and INSAFE (both funded by the EU Safer Internet Plan). Most recently she was the UK Evaluator for the Implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles Project of the EU Safer Internet Plan, and is currently working on the Christian Faith Communities and Esafety Project (CFCEP) in collaboration with the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service.

The internet, mobile phones and social networking are increasingly central to the everyday lives and leisure of young people in contemporary society. This has resulted in parents, educators and policy-makers raising a number of concerns about the risks associated with their use. In order to address these issues, a body of empirical research is developing which examines a variety of aspects of young peoples’ use of new technologies. This paper specifically focuses on their disclosure of personal information online, its potential risks and associated outcomes. It provides an overview of current empirical understanding in this area, and considers the associated implications for understanding the developmental functions of young peoples’ leisure in contemporary society.

Disclosure of personal information 

One of the central concerns associated with young peoples’ use of the internet and related technologies is the personal information they routinely disclose as part of online interactions. Many of the risks to which they are potentially exposed online are associated with sharing private details about their lives, activities and identities (Bryce & Klang, 2009). For example, the recent trend of young people sharing self-generated sexually explicit material or ‘‘sexting’’ can lead to them being bullied by their peers or contacted by adults for sexually exploitative purposes (Bryce & Klang, 2009). As a result, advice against disclosure of personal information online is central to educational strategies which encourage safe and responsible use of the internet (Bryce, 2010).

Despite this, research suggests that disclosure is a routine part of many young peoples’ online activities and interactions. The EU Kids Go Online Study (Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig & Ólafsson, 2011) found that 14% of 11-16 year olds in the UK had disclosed personal information to people they met online. Other research found that 25% of 8-18 year olds have engaged in this behaviour (Bryce, 2008). There are also concerns about the risks associated with young people routinely posting or sharing images with others online. Bryce (2008) found that 54% of a sample of 8-18 year olds had uploaded an image of themselves online, and 26% had sent an image of themselves to someone they met online. More recent research found that 10% of 11-16 year olds in the UK had sent an image to someone that they met online (Livingstone et al., 2011).

These levels of disclosure are not surprising given that sharing personal information is recognised as an important component of establishing trust and mutual understanding in interpersonal relationships (Mesch & Beker, 2010). Qualitative research suggests that young people perceive themselves to have control over disclosure, and engage in the behaviour in full awareness of the associated risks because it is perceived to be central to interaction and meeting people online (Bryce, 2008; Livingstone, 2008). Research also indicates the importance of images to young people for establishing and developing identity online, as well as a strategy for verifying that of others and building trust in online interactions (Bryce, 2008; Withers and Sheldon, 2008). This highlights the contradictions between disclosure as part of online relationship formation and maintenance, awareness of the associated risks, and advice against this behaviour in educational strategies (Boyd, 2007; Bryce, 2008; Livingstone, 2008). 

Developmental functions of adolescent leisure

Friendship is a central part of adolescence, and peer interactions in leisure are increasingly mediated through new technologies (Gross, 2004; Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). The internet has also emerged as an important leisure space in which the developmental processes associated with exploration of identity, sexuality and peer relationships central to adolescence are managed (Caldwell & Witt, 2011; Erikson, 1959; Steinberg, 2008; Subrahmanyam, Garcia, Harsono & Lipana, 2009). This involves exploration and expression of identity, as well as risk-taking and exploring normative boundaries for behaviour and communication (Hope, 2007; Livingstone, 2008; Wolak, Mitchell & Finkelhor, 2006). The risks associated with these aspects of young peoples’ online behaviour are distinguished by their often public nature, and their temporal persistence independent of the individual. Adolescents are often less concerned about the potential circulation of their personal information in the future (Tufekci, 2008), raising concerns over the extent to which young people take sufficient steps to protect their personal information online. Young people may not fully understand the long term consequences of this behaviour, and be aware that the content they post and share can be used by others for bullying and harassment (Bryce & Klang, 2009).

This is illustrated by recent concern over the increasing popularity of young people creating and sharing sexually explicit user-generated content (e.g., images, video clips) with peers and romantic partners online (Bryce, 2010). This information can subsequently be widely disseminated to peers and more generally online, exposing those involved to ridicule and bullying (Boyd, 2007; Bryce, 2010). This can have a range of negative psychological consequences, including feelings of humiliation, psychological distress and suicidal feelings (Cassidy, Jackson & Brown, 2009). Given that the Internet is an increasingly important part of the everyday lives of young people, it is unsurprising that it is being used as a means of communicating and exploring sexual identity and relationships (Bryce, 2010). This is consistent with the technological mediation of the developmental functions of adolescent leisure previously described. However, research suggesting that 38% of 11-18 year olds had received sexually explicit or distressing messages (Cross et al., 2009) highlights the need to encourage young people to consider the potential outcomes of posting or sharing private or provocative content with partners or peers (Bryce, 2010).


The increase in this behaviour is related to the risks associated with the broader use of the personal information young people disclose online by others for harassment and intimidation (Bryce & Klang, 2009). This form of behaviour has been termed cyberbullying, and involves the use of new information and communication devices and services to harass or intimidate an individual or group of young people (Bryce, 2008; Hinduja & Patchin, 2006; Li, 2007a). This behaviour is specifically conceptualised as being intentional, repetitive and harmful (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009). It encompasses a range of behaviours including abuse and making threats, posting or forwarding private information, impersonating victims, altering images as well as recording and circulating harassment online or via mobile phones (Bryce, 2008). Research suggests that a significant number of young people experience bullying and harassment online. Prevalence figures of 31% (Bryce, 2008), 28% (Cross et al., 2012) and 8% (Livingstone et al., 2011) have been found in recent quantitative surveys in the UK, and suggest that this behaviour is a significant problem for a number of young people.

Research suggests that cyberbullying may have a greater impact on the physical, social and psychological well-being of young people compared to equivalent behaviour offline as it potentially invades domestic spaces, and removes the protective function of the home as ‘safe haven’ from harassment (Bryce, 2008; Patchin and Hinduja, 2006; Cassidy et al., 2009). This migration of bullying across platforms and locations suggests that private domestic leisure spaces (e.g., the home, the bedroom) are now a location for harassment of young people by peers and strangers. However, the centrality of the Internet and mobiles to the identities, friendships and everyday lives of young people potentially increases their reluctance to restrict their use or report problems when experiencing cyberbullying (Bryce, 2008; Campbell, 2005b; Strom and Strom, 2005). There is a need for educational strategies to increase young peoples’ understanding of the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour online, and to encourage them to consider the impact of content they post online on others and themselves as potential perpetrators (e.g., school sanctions, criminal action).


The internet has emerged as an important location for young peoples’ leisure, and the developmental functions of adolescence associated with identity, peer relationships and sexuality.   Disclosure of personal information online is central to the development of intimacy and communication which characterises young peoples’ relationships, yet also creates risks associated with its misuse. Despite evidence that many young people share details about their lives, interests and identities whilst aware of these risks, it seems that they are less able to consider the potential long term consequences of their behaviour. However, there is evidence that some young people are generating strategies for protecting themselves from online risks, paradoxically through behaviours which they are routinely advised against in educational messages. This is consistent with the importance of learning to manage risk as a developmental function of adolescent leisure.

Young people do, however, appear to be less aware of the potentially public and persistent nature of the information which they post and share online, and its use in harassment and intimidation. The migration of bullying across platforms and locations also suggests that private domestic leisure spaces (e.g., the home, the bedroom) are now a location for harassment of young people by peers and strangers. This suggests that Internet and related technologies are blurring traditionally conceived boundaries between the private and public leisure spheres in ways which can be detrimental to the well-being of young people. Educational strategies addressing the risks associated with young peoples’ online behaviour should more clearly recognise its developmental functions, particularly when communicating risks to parents, teachers and policy makers. There is also a need to ensure that young people are sufficiently aware of the potential consequences of disclosing personal information online through developmentally appropriate educational strategies. These should support young people in using the internet and related technologies to effectively manage risk and the development of identity, sexuality and relationships during their leisure time. 

It is important to emphasise that whilst there are important and legitimate concerns about the impact of the internet and related technologies on the development and well-being of young people, there are also a variety of positive impacts associated with their leisure-related use. This highlights the need to balance these concerns with a clear commitment to recognising and harnessing the educational and developmental opportunities which new technologies provide.


Cross, E. J., Richardson, B., Douglas, T., & von Kaenel-Flatt, J. (2009). Virtual Violence: Protecting Children from Cyberbullying. London: Beatbullying.

Cross, E. J., Piggin,  R., Douglas, T., & von Kaenel-Flatt, J. (2012). Virtual Violence II: The Real Impact Of Cyberbullying Revealed. London: Beatbullying.

Beran, T., & Li, Q. (2005). Cyber-harassment: A study of a new method for an old behaviour. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 32(3), 265-277.

Boyd, D. (2007). Why youth (heart) social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life, in D. Buckingham (Ed.), MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning – Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 

Bryce, J. (2010). Online sexual exploitation of children and young people. In Handbook of Internet Crime, edited by Yvonne Jewkes, and Majid Yar. Devon, UK: Willan Publishing.

Bryce, J. (2008). Bridging the Digital Divide: Executive Summary. London: Orange and the Cyberspace Research Unit.

Bryce, J. (2008). The role of education and continuous professional development for preventing and responding to cyberbullying. CPD Update, May 2008. London: Optimus Education.

Bryce, J., & Klang, M. (2009). Young people, disclosure of personal information and online privacy: Control, choice and consequences. Information Security Technical Report, 14,160-166. 

Caldwell, L., & Witt, P. (2011). Leisure, recreation, and play from a developmental context. New Directions for Youth Development, 130, 13-27.

Campbell, M. A. (2005b). Cyberbullying: An old problem in a new guise? Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 15(1), 68-76.

Cassidy, W., Jackson, M., & Brown, K. N. (2009). Sticks and stones can break my bones, but how can pixels hurt me? Students’ experiences with cyber-bullying. School Psychology International, 30(4), 383-402.

Erikson, E. (1959).  Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: W. W. Norton.

Gross, E. F. (2004). Adolescent Internet use: What we expect, what teens report. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25(6), 633-649.

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Hope, A. (2007). Risk taking, boundary performance and intentional school internet ‘misuse’. Discourse, 28(1), 87-99.

Li, Q. (2007a). Bullying in the new playground: Research into cyberbullying and cybervictimisation. Australasian Journal of educational Technology, 23(4), 435-454.

Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in the creation of youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media and Society, 10(3), 393-411.

Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011). Risk and safety on the Internet: The UK report.

Mesch, G. S., & Beker, G. (2010). Are norms of disclosure of online and offline personal information associated the disclosure of personal information online? Human Communication Research, 36, 570-592.

OFCOM (2008). Social Networking: A Quantitative and Qualitative Research Report into Attitudes, Behaviours and Use. London: OFCOM.

Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148-169.

Steinberg, L. (2008). Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Strom, P. S., & Strom, R. D. (2005). Cyberbullying by adolescents: A preliminary assessment. The Educational Forum, 70, 21-36.

Subrahmanyam, K., Garcia, E. C. M., Harsono, L. S., Li, J. S., & Lipana, L. (2010). In their words: Connecting on-line weblogs to developmental processes. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 219–245.

Tufekci, Z. (2008). Can you see me now? Audience and disclosure regulation in online social network sites. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, 28, 20-36.

Withers, K., & Sheldon, R. (2008). Behind the Screen: The Hidden Life of Youth Online. London: IPPR.

Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online Victimization: 5 Years Later. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Wolke, D., Woods, S., Bloomfield, L., & Karstadt, L. (2000). The association between direct and relational bullying and behaviour problems among primary school children. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 41, 989-1002.

Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2007). Preadolescents’ and adolescents’ online communication and their closeness to friends. Developmental Psychology, 43(2), 267-277.


Organizational Section

The Cyberspace Research Unit, School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.

 The work of the Cyberspace Research Unit focuses on empowering children and young people with the tools, knowledge and skills they need to navigate safely in cyberspace. A central focus of the work of the Unit is to develop and deliver high quality and wide ranging awareness materials and training packages for education and child protection professionals, parents and young people which promote Internet safety (e.g., the UCLan University Certificate in Child Safety on the Internet).  The development of empirical knowledge about young peoples’ online behaviours and experiences in order to ensure that online safety advice reflects the ways in which they use the Internet in their everyday lives is essential to this work. The Unit also examines use of the Internet and related technologies in the commission of criminal activities (e.g.. sexual exploitation of children, intellectual property infringement) in order to inform both investigative and educational strategies.

As such, the work of the Unit focuses on knowledge transfer, end user engagement, education and awareness raising. The overall aim is to contribute to evidence-based policy-making at the national and European level.  As a result, this involves working within a political and regulatory environment, which involves collaboration with a variety of external stakeholders (e.g., policy makers, enforcement, industry, charities, educators, young people). As part of this work, members of the CRU have previously been members of the Home Office Internet Task Force, the Department for Education Schools Internet Safety Strategy Group and Cyberbullying Taskforce.

The Cyberspace Research Unit was established by Rachel O'Connell in January 2000 as part of the Psychology Department at the University of Central Lancashire. The research unit secured funding from the European Commission in January 2001 to coordinate the ONCE Project (Online Children's Education). The project was extremely successful and the Commission funded the unit as the UK co-ordinators of the Safe Borders, INSAFE and ISCA Projects as part of a pan European network working towards a multi-channel, multipurpose awareness campaign promoting the Safer Internet campaign. During this time, Dr Jo Bryce became Director of Research and expanded the work of the unit into areas including intellectual property crime and online piracy.


We Foster Inquiry

Research and scholarship to discover the personal and social potentialities of leisure experiences.

We Engage in Informed Advocacy

By advocating for conditions optimizing leisure experiences: legislation, infastructure, leadership and programming.