Teenagers doing nothing – the upside

The next time you see a group of adolescents just hangin’ out at a bus stop, rather than grumbling to yourself ‘Why don’t they do something useful?’, you might ask instead ‘Could it be that “doing nothing” is a healthy teenage behaviour?’

This is exactly the question posed by postdoc researcher Maria Patsarika (currently at the Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece) in a recent paper for the journal European Health Psychologist,  Vol. 14, issue 1 (March 2012). Whilst acknowledging that :

“The benefits for young people of organised activities are numerous and indisputable, discussed as they are by psychological research.”

– the author also draws attention the opportunities presented by considering possibly counterintuitive aspects of teenage (in)activity :

“The aim of this paper, instead, has been to exculpate the practice of ‘doing nothing’ as a healthy teenage behaviour, which is hopefully shown to deserve more attention by academic researchers and practitioners alike.”


Sir Cedric Webster Hardwicke, Bill Bendix and Harry Lillis Crosby illustrate their take on (in)activity, circa 1949.