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1345.4 - SA Stats, Aug 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/2007   
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CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN CULTURAL AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES - SOUTH AUSTRALIA, 2006

Numerous elements influence the physical and social development of children. The involvement of children in cultural or leisure activities can contribute to their well-being by providing experiences for learning, socialising as well as improving fitness and coordination.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted a Survey of Children's Participation in Culture and Leisure Activities in April 2006. The survey collected information on the involvement of children aged 5 to 14 years in sporting, cultural and leisure activities outside school hours. Information was also collected on the participation and non-participation of children in a range of selected organised cultural and sporting activities in the 12 months prior to interview, with other leisure activities referenced to the most recent two school weeks before the interview. Data are also available for 2000 and 2003.

Key characteristics of South Australian children who participated in cultural, sporting and leisure activities outside school hours were:

  • More South Australian children were involved in organised sports than organised cultural activities.
  • Watching TV, videos, DVDs was the most popular leisure activity of South Australian children.
  • Of the 182,600 South Australian children who accessed information technology, 65% accessed the Internet.
  • A higher percentage of girls than boys in South Australia reported non participation in organised cultural and leisure activities.

The article will also compare South Australia's level of participation, attendance and involvement in selected culture, sport and leisure activities with Australian figures as well as with other states and territories. Comparisons are also made between 2000 and 2006.

CHANGES IN PARTICIPATION SINCE 2000

The ABS conducted surveys on children's participation in culture and leisure activities every three years since 2000. A comparison of data over the six year period show a change in participation in organised sport (from 62% in 2000 to 64% in 2006). There was an increased involvement of South Australian boys in organised sport from 65% in 2000 to 70% in 2006. The participation rates of girls remained similar over the same period (around 58%).

Overall, there was minimal change in the participation in organised cultural activities among South Australian children (from 28% in 2000 to 27% in 2006). South Australian children involved in dancing increased from 6% in 2000 to 9% in 2006. Participation in singing decreased over the same period from 10% to 6%.

There was also a noticeable change in children playing computer games which decreased by 4 percentage points from 71% in 2000 to 67% in 2006. In contrast, children who went bike riding increased in 2006 to 64% from 62% in 2000.

There was a significant increase in the percentage of South Australian children accessing the Internet between 2000 and 2003 (from 49% in 2000 to 66% in 2003). In 2006, 65% of children accessed the Internet. Conversely, the percentage of children using a computer but not accessing the Internet decreased from 50% in 2000 to 30% in 2003 and 2006.

PARTICIPATION IN 2006

Cultural activities
The survey collected data on children's involvement in four organised cultural activities: playing a musical instrument, dancing, singing and drama. In 2006, 27% (52,700) of South Australians aged 5 to 14 years were involved in organised cultural activities, with 35% (32,800) of girls and 20% (19,900) of boys reporting participation in these activities. Not only were more girls involved in organised cultural activities overall, there was not one organised cultural activity where more boys were involved than girls.

Playing a musical instrument was the most popular cultural activity for South Australian children (17%) with 19% of girls and 16% of boys involved in this activity. Dancing (having lessons or giving a dance performance) was eight times more common for girls (16%) than for boys (2%). Across the state, 9% of children were involved in dancing.

More than double the number of girls (8,300 or 9%) were involved in singing when compared to boys (3,900 or 4%) in South Australia. Statewide, 6% of children had lessons or gave a singing performance in 2006.

PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, South Australia
Graph: Participation in Organised Cultural Activities, South Australia
Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0)

Nationally, 33% of children participated in organised cultural activities. South Australian children had the second lowest participation (27%) after the Northern Territory (25%). The discrepancy between the total Australian and South Australian participation was particularly noticeable for girls; nationally, 44% of girls participated in organised cultural activities compared to 35% for South Australian girls which was equal lowest with the Northern Territory. Overall, the proportion of Australian girls involved in cultural activities was double the proportion of boys, 44% and 22% respectively.

Musical instruments were played outside school hours by 20% of Australian children, 12% had dance lessons or gave a dance performance and 6% had singing lessons or gave a singing performance. In all states and territories, the activity with the highest participation of those surveyed was children playing a musical instrument.

Organised sport
The importance of physical activity in maintaining a healthy weight is well known. The 2004 NSW School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS, 2004) showed that 26% of boys and 24% of girls in NSW aged approximately 5–16 years were overweight or obese. The National Physical Activities Guidelines for Australians (DoHA, 2004) recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day for young people aged under 18 years. With a decrease in incidental activity, planned activity becomes more important to maintain a healthy weight (AIHW, 2005).

An estimated 123,000 (64%) children aged 5–14 years in South Australia participated in organised sport outside school hours in the 12 months to April 2006. The top five organised sports (in terms of children's participation) were netball (15%), Australian Rules football (14%), swimming (13%), basketball (12%) and outdoor soccer (11%). A greater proportion of boys (70% or 68,900) than girls (58% or 54,100) were involved in organised sports in South Australia.

Australian Rules football was the most popular organised sport participated in by boys in South Australia (27% or 26,100). Other popular sporting activities for boys were outdoor soccer (17%) and outdoor cricket (16%). For South Australian girls, netball was the most popular organised sport (30%) followed by swimming (14%) and basketball (10%).

Although South Australian boys had a higher rate of participation in organised sport than girls, it should be noted that the proportion of South Australian girls (16%) involved in dancing was 8 times that of boys (2%). Dancing may have been substituted by girls for their main physical activity. Previous analysis (footnote 1) reported that if dancing were included in organised sport, the gap in the participation rates in organised sport for boys and girls would be smaller.

PARTICIPATION RATE OF CHILDREN IN MOST POPULAR SPORTS, South Australia
Graph: Participation rate of children in most popular sports, South Australia

Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0)

More boys across Australia participated in organised sport compared to girls in the 12 months prior to interview (69% and 58% respectively). Outdoor soccer and Australian Rules football are both in the top three most popular sports for Australian and South Australian boys. However, while similar proportions of boys participate in outdoor soccer in South Australia and Australia, almost twice the proportion of South Australian boys play Australian Rules football compared with Australian boys. Netball and swimming are both in the top three most popular sports for Australian and South Australian girls. Swimming is participated in similar proportions by South Australian and Australian girls. However, almost twice the proportion of South Australian girls play netball than Australian girls.

Other leisure activities
In the two weeks leading up to the survey, the three most popular leisure activities for South Australian children aged 5–14 years were watching TV, videos or DVDs (98%), reading for pleasure (73%) and playing electronic or computer games (67%).

It is interesting to note that South Australian children were more commonly involved in reading for pleasure than playing electronic or computer games. While similar proportions of boys and girls watch TV, videos or DVDs (98% for both), more boys than girls play computer or electronic games than girls (83% compared with 51%) while more girls than boys do art and craft (63% compared with 40%), as well as reading for pleasure (77% compared with 68%).

South Australian children preferred bike riding (64%) to skateboarding or rollerblading (24%). In fact, riding bikes was almost as common as the indoor activities (more common than doing art and craft).

PARTICIPATION RATE OF CHILDREN IN SELECTED OTHER ACTIVITIES, South Australia (a)

Graph: Participation rate of Children in Selected other Activities, South Australia (a)
(a) In the 2 weeks prior to interview

Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0)

Watching TV, videos or DVDs was also the most popular leisure activity for Australian children outside school hours (97%). Nationally, a greater proportion of children went bike riding (68%) than playing an electronic or computer game (64%). Around a quarter (24%) of children nationwide went skateboarding or rollerblading. Almost three quarters (74%) of Australian children read for pleasure and almost half (49%) were involved in art and craft outside school hours.

Similar proportions of children watch TV, videos or DVDs outside school hours across the other states and territories (ranging from 95% – 98%). South Australia reported a lower proportion (64%) of children who went bike riding outside school hours compared to all other states and territories.

Attendance at cultural venues
Public libraries were the most common cultural venue attended, with more than half of children in South Australia and Australia going to a library at least once in the previous 12 months. More girls than boys attended a performing arts event in South Australia and Australia. More South Australian boys than girls went to the museum/art gallery in the 12 months prior to interview.

ATTENDANCE RATE AT SELECTED CULTURAL VENUES OR EVENTS, Australia and South Australia

Use of information technology
In South Australia, there were 65% of children accessing the Internet and 30% using a computer but not accessing the Internet in 2006. Around 5% of children did not access information technology over this period. This is around 182,600 children aged 5–14 years using information technology in the 12 months prior to interview. Similar proportions of South Australian boys and girls accessed the Internet (64% and 66% respectively) and used a computer not accessing the Internet (31% and 29% respectively).

USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, South Australia

Nationally, 65% of children accessed the Internet and 27% used a computer but not the Internet resulting in an estimated 2.5 million Australian children aged 5–14 years using information technology in the 12 months leading to interview. Equal proportions of boys and girls nationally accessed the Internet (both 65%) and similar proportions used the computer but not the Internet (27% and 28% respectively).

NON PARTICIPANTS
Non participation was recorded for organised cultural and sporting activities outside school hours. In the 12 months prior to interview, there were 55,200 (29%) South Australian children aged 5–14 years who did not participate in any of the selected organised cultural or sporting activities. More girls (32%) than boys (26%) did not report any participation.

Nationally, the level of non participation was 27% with similar proportions of boys (26%) and girls (27%) who did not participate in any of the selected organised cultural or sporting activities.

NON PARTICIPATION RATE OF CHILDREN, SELECTED ORGANISED CULTURAL OR SPORTING ACTIVITIES, States and Territories
Graph: Non Participation rate of children, Selected organised cultural or sporting activities, States and Territories
Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0)

Previous analyses (footnote 1) have identified characteristics of children who are likely to be non-participants in sports. The age and sex of a child have a moderate relationship with sports participation, with girls and children in the 5–7 year and 12–14 year age groups less likely to participate. Sedentary screen based activities such as watching television and videos, using computers or the Internet and playing computer games were also shown to have different and seemingly contradictory relationships with sport participation. Children who used a computer or the Internet as well those who played computer games were more likely to participate in organised sport, while those watching television and videos for very long hours (40 hours or more in a fortnight) had a reduced likelihood of participating in sporting activities. Certain socio-demographic characteristics are also likely to be related with non participation. These include:
  • Children in families with unemployed parents or in a single parent family with an unemployed parent;
  • Children born overseas or having a parent born in an overseas non-English speaking country;
  • Children from households with a lower overall socioeconomic status.

There is growing concern on the increasing levels of childhood obesity in Australia. Participation in organised activities like sports is a key element in addressing concerns over physical inactivity and obesity in the child population. The socio-demographic characteristics identified could be used to inform policy and program development in increasing children's participation in physical activity.

References:

NSW School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) 2004

National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians (DoHA 2004)

A picture of Australia's Children (AIHW, 2005)

Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0).

(Footnote 1) The Young and the Restful (Re-Visited) - The Effects of Recreational Choices and Demographic Factors on Children's Participation in Sport. www.ausport.gov.au/scorsresearch/research.asp <Back


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