Interests of US Teens

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Interests of US Teens

Key TakeAways

  • Sports including playing basketball, soccer, and field & track are the most popular after-hours activity liked by the teens represented by high school students in the United States.
  • Playing instruments, especially the guitar is popular among Americans including high school students.
  • Performance arts including gymnastics and dancing are popular after-class hours activities liked by the teens represented by high school students in the United States.

Introduction

This research provides information on the interests of US teens. The study focuses on identifying the after-hours classes liked by the teens (high school students) in the United States. We prioritized information specific to US teens aged for the last 3 years was limited with only one report reporting metrics related to 2020-2021. Data on playing instruments by high school students was not available and therefore the research extrapolated to include the research of the entire population. To identify trends, insights, and patterns, the scope was expanded to include information and data on the most recent data including the 2019 report. Below is an overview of the findings and an explanation of the methodology.

Research Findings

Playing Sport: Basketball

  • According to 2020-2021, National Student Analysis survey conducted on nearly 6,000 students by Aspen Institute, results show that basketball is the most liked after-class hours activity popular among 24% of the high school students. Basketball is most popular among high school students in 48% of Charter schools followed by 23% and 20% in public and private schools respectively. Additionally, basketball was most popular among high school students in rural schools (28%), urban schools (19%), and suburban schools (19%) respectively.
  • According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey, basketball is the third most popular outdoor activity with a participation rate of 12% (939,836 out of a total of 7,931,559) participants.
  • Basketball was popular in all the 51 states and popular in 36,827 out of 327,438 schools surveyed representing 11% popularity.

Soccer

  • According to the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey conducted by Aspen Institute on about 6,000 high school students, soccer (football) was the second most popular after-class hours activity popular among 21% of the high school students surveyed. Going by the school, soccer was most popular in 35% of the charter schools followed by 28% and 16% popularity in private and public schools respectively. Among the high school students, basketball was most popular in urban schools (20%), rural schools (17%), and suburban schools (14%) respectively.
  • According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey, football was the most popular outdoor activity with a participation rate of 13% (1,008,417 out of a total of 7,931,559 participants). Out of 51 states, football among the high school students was popular in 38 states out 51 states. Out of 327,438 schools surveyed, football was popular in 16,165 out of 327,438 accounting for 5% of popularity.

Track and Field

  • According to the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey, track and field were the third most popular after-class hours activity. According to the survey, track and field were popular among 19% of the high school students surveyed. In terms of school, track and field activity was most popular among high school students in 22% of the public schools followed by private schools (13%) and public schools (12%) respectively. Track and field activity among teens according to the survey was prevalent in rural schools (25%), suburban schools (20%), and urban schools (18%) respectively.
  • However, according to the most recent National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey (2018-2019), track and field outdoor and indoor after-class activity is the most popular sport among the high school students with a total of 1,093,621 (14%) and 150,253 (2%) out of 7,931,559 total participants engaging in the sport. Out of 327,438 schools, track and Field was popular in 40,358 schools representing a 12% popularity.
  • According to Stadium Talk which lists the Most Popular High School Sports in America, track and field are listed in position 15 for indoor track and field and with a total of 150,253 participants in 21 states where boys and girls participate in 3,149 and 3,145 schools respectively.

Playing Instrument: Guitar

  • With a variety of instruments to play including piano, guitar, violin, flute etcetera, the guitar appears to be one the most instrument played by a majority of Americans.
The guitar is used in playing many genres of music and hence a favorite of many. With so many sounds produced, the guitar is a perfect choice for many including teens since they are in a position of playing any song anywhere.

Swimming

  • As part of physical education, swimming is considered to be the 11th most popular after-class hours activity. This is according to the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey conducted by Aspen Institute. According to the survey, swimming was popular among 6% of the high school students.
  • In terms of schools, swimming as an after-class hours activity is considered to be most popular in private schools (7%), public schools (5%), and 4% in charter schools respectively. High school students planning to enroll in swimming according to the survey account for about 6% in suburban schools, 5% in rural schools, and (4%) in urban schools.


  • According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey, swimming is popular among 309,726 high school students out of a total of 7,931,55 representing a 4% participation rate. Out of 327,438 schools, swimming was popular in 15,711 schools representing a 5% popularity.
  • According to Stadium Talk, swimming is ranked 21st most popular activity among high school students with a total of 20,238 participants in 7 states for boys and 27 states for girls out of whom boys participated in 104 schools while girls participated in 1578 schools.

Gymnastics

  • Gymnastics is part of physical education and according to the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey, gymnastics is the 22nd most popular after-class hours activity. According to the survey, gymnastics was popular among 1% of the high school students surveyed.
  • In terms of school classification, gymnastics was most popular in 3% in charter schools, 2% in public schools, and 1% in private schools respectively. High school students planning to enroll in gymnastics according to the survey accounted for about (2%) in urban schools, 2% in suburban schools, and 1% in rural schools.

  • According to the most recent National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey, gymnastics is popular among 20,238 high school students out of a total of 7,931,55 representing a 0% participation rate. Out of 327,438 schools, gymnastics was popular in 1,682 schools representing a 1% popularity.
  • According to Stadium Talk, gymnastics ranks as the 21st most popular activity among high school students with a total of 20,238 participants in 7 states for boys and 27 states for girls where boys participated in 104 schools while girls participated in 1578 schools.

Dancing

  • According to teen life, arts and design is a popular summer program for high school students. Dancing is considered favorable as shown by the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey which reports dancing as the 17th most popular after-class hours activity. According to the survey, dancing was popular among 2% of the high school teens.
  • Going by the school, dancing appears to be popular in 3% of the public schools, 3% in charter schools, and 2% in private schools respectively. High school students planning to enroll in a dance team according to the National Student Analysis survey account for about (5%) in urban schools, 4% in suburban schools, and 1% in rural schools.
  • National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey states that students enrolled in a dance/drill team were about 13,040 out of a total of 7,931,55 representing a 0% participation rate. Out of 327,438 schools in 4 states of 5 states, dancing was popular in 654 schools representing a 0% popularity of the total.

  • According to Stadium Talk, dancing/drill is ranked 25th most popular activity among high school students with a total of 10,354 participants in 9 states including boys in 65 schools and girls from 195 schools.

Research Strategy

The research involved the identification of the favorite 5–7 after-hours classes or subjects of high school students in the United States. The information obtained by the research team searched through the public domain for any information on the insights and trends in the after-hours class activities of teens. However, we only found data on the 2020-2021 year was obtained. To obtain trends and identify significant patterns and changes over time and for a more conclusive report of the 5–7 after-hours class activities by teens, the time frame for the data was extended beyond the 3 years to include data for other years in 2019. The 5-7 after-hours classes or subjects were considered extracurricular activities participated by high school students.
The research team found several compiled lists from credible sources from the public domain including sources such as the 2018-2019 National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) survey and the 2020-2021 National Student Analysis survey conducted by Aspen Institute. We chose the ones that are mentioned or recommended by multiple sources.

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