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Changes in participation since 2000
While the overall level of children's participation in organised cultural activities was relatively static between 2000 and 2003 (29.4% in 2000 versus 29.5% in 2003) marked differences in the participation rates of boys and girls in 2000 became even more pronounced in 2003. While the girls' participation rate increased from 40% to 43% during this period (driven mainly by greater involvement in dancing), the participation rate for boys fell from 20% to 17%, primarily as a result of a decrease in boys playing a musical instrument.
At the same time, the overall number of children involved in organised sport grew by more than 62,000, increasing the participation rate by 2 percentage points to 62%. Participation in organised sports increased for boys (66% in 2000 to 69% in 2003), but there was no statistically significant change for girls. The organised sport with the highest participation rate in both 2000 and 2003 was swimming, which attracted an additional 59,000 participants during this period. Of the 12 sports with the highest participation rates, the one to suffer the largest decrease in participation was rugby league, with 18,000 fewer children involved in 2003 than in 2000.
The most significant changes in participation in the selected leisure activities were an 8 percentage point decrease in children who skateboarded or rollerbladed and a 5 percentage point increase in children who did art and craft activities.
There was a substantial shift in the way that children used computers during this period, with the overall proportion of children accessing the "Net" growing by 17 percentage points to 64%. Of those children who had accessed the Internet during or outside school hours during the 12 months prior to interview, the proportion who had accessed it at a computer in their own home increased by 23 percentage points to 79%.
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