Give the Gift of Family Leisure for Christmas

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Dec. 9, 2016

Family fun at home may satisfy family more than going elsewhere for fun, Baylor researcher says

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Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Dec. 9, 2016) — While some people rely on gift cards or certificates — perhaps even for a family getaway — it might be that creating a homemade “certificate” and committing to a pleasant evening at home with family could be an alternative.

Family fun often is associated with new and exciting activities, but family leisure spent at home in familiar pastimes seems to be a more effective route to happiness, according to a Baylor University study.

“That may be because when the brain is focused on processing new information — such as taking part in an unfamiliar activity with unfamiliar people in a new location — less ‘brain power’ is available to focus on the family relationships,” said researcher Karen K. Melton, Ph.D., assistant professor of child and family studies in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.

“The best predictor of happiness for families may be spending quality time together in familiar activities inside the home. And that’s great news for families who have little time or few resources,” she said.

Melton noted that some studies support the idea that a family meal is a good idea for family togetherness, while watching TV is seen as ineffective for individual happiness or family function. But families should question one-size-fits-all notions.

“For some families, quality togetherness is having dinner together or playing games; for others, it may be hobbies, videos or TV, music,” Melton said. “At the end of the day, what matters is that we are social beings who crave a sense of belonging and connectivity.”

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT THE ROBBINS COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES

The anchor academic units that form the College — Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences and Health, Human Performance and Recreation — share the common purpose of improving health and the quality of life. The College uses a team-based approach to promote patient care and establish interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving the quality of life for individuals, families and communities.

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