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To understand children’s time use, we must first look at its development. Contemporary societies have been labeled as child-oriented, in which an enormous amount of material and emotional resources is spent on children. Sociologists and anthropologists have referred to the contemporary privatization of childhood. Demographers and economists see modern families as valuing more the quality than the quantity of children. As put by Viviana Zelizer, contemporary children are economically useless but emotionally priceless. This entry examines historical perspectives on children’s time use and theories and research on children’s time use.

Historical Perspectives

Societal perceptions and conditions on what children do have changed dramatically over history. Social historians like Philippe Ariès described an increasing sentimentality around the child starting from the late 17th century, in parallel with a ...

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