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4901.0 - Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/01/2001   
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SUMMARY

In the 12 months to April 2000, 29% of children aged 5 to 14 years were involved in at least one of four selected organised cultural activities (that is, playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing or drama) outside of school hours. By comparison, 59% of children in that age group participated outside of school hours in sport organised by a school, club or association. During the year, 30% of children did not participate in either organised sport or one of the organised cultural activities.

Nearly all children were involved in at least one of five selected leisure activities outside of school hours in the most recent two school weeks: 97% of children watched television or videos, 69% played electronic or computer games, 64% rode bikes, 44% spent time on art and craft activities, and 31% skateboarded or rollerbladed.

During or outside of school hours, 95% of children aged 5 to 14 years used a computer and 47% accessed the Internet in the 12 months to April 2000.


SELECTED ORGANISED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Over the year to April 2000, 777,700 children (29%) were involved in at least one of the four selected organised cultural activities outside of school hours. Twice as many girls as boys (40% compared with 20%) participated in at least one of these activities.

During the year, 10% of girls were involved in more than one of the selected organised cultural activities outside of school hours compared with 3% of boys.

The rate of children's participation in at least one of the organised cultural activities ranged from 22% in the Northern Territory to 34% in the Australian Capital Territory.

Playing a musical instrument was the most popular of the selected cultural activities (18%), followed by dancing (10%), singing (5%) and drama (5%). The activity with the highest ratio of girls to boys was dancing with 11 times more girls participating than boys.

PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, By Sex
Participation in organised cultural activities by sex



Participation in dancing was highest for children aged 6 years (13%) and lowest for children aged 14 years (7%). Participation in the other three activities peaked between 10 and 12 years of age.

PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, By Age
Participation in organised cultural activities by age



During the 12-month period, 93% of children involved in dancing had dancing lessons. The percentages for the other activities were 75% for playing a musical instrument, 69% for drama and 57% for singing.


FREQUENCY AND DURATION

Over half (52%) of the children playing a musical instrument practised, had lessons or performed more than once a week on average during the year ending April 2000 compared with 26% of the dancers, 14% of the singers and 6% of those involved in drama.

Among those children who had played a musical instrument outside of school hours, the average (i.e. mean) time spent practising, having lessons and performing was 5 hours during the past two school weeks. The average hours for the other activities were 4 hours for dancing and 3 hours for both singing and drama.


ORGANISED SPORT

In the 12 months to April 2000, 1.6 million children (59%) participated outside of school hours in sport that had been organised by a school, club or association.

Not only was the participation rate higher for boys (66%) than girls (52%), the percentage of boys participating in more than one sport was greater (32% compared with 20%).

Participation in organised sport outside of school hours ranged from a low of 32% for children aged 5 years to a peak of 69% for those aged 11 years.

PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED SPORT
Participation in organised sport



Of all the States and Territories, children in the Northern Territory had the highest participation rate (66%) in organised sport outside of school hours while Queensland had the lowest participation rate (56%). Children living in the six State capital cities had a lower participation rate in organised sport outside of school hours than those living elsewhere in Australia (57% compared with 62%).

Children born overseas in countries other than the main English-speaking countries had the lowest participation rates—47% of boys and 26% of girls.

Of those who played organised sport outside of school hours, boys played more often: 52% of the boys played 53 times or more in the year ending April 2000 compared with 45% of girls.

Older children played organised sport more frequently, with 57% of those 12 to 14 year olds who had participated doing so at least 53 times in the year compared with 36% of their 5 to 8 year old counterparts.


SPORTS WITH MOST PARTICIPANTS

The sports that attracted most boys were outdoor soccer (with a participation rate for boys of 20%), swimming (13%), Australian Rules football (13%) and outdoor cricket (10%). For girls, the most popular sports were netball (18%), swimming (16%), tennis (8%) and basketball (6%).

PARTICIPATION IN MOST POPULAR SPORTS
Participation in most popular sports



About an equal percentage of girls and boys participated in athletics (including track and field) and hockey (50% of those involved in athletics and 51% of hockey players were girls). However, for some sports, there is a clear difference between the sexes in preferences or opportunities. Most (97%) netball players were girls while boys made up 98% of Australian Rules footballers, 97% of Rugby League players and 95% of outdoor cricket players.

Some sports were played more frequently than others. For example, 35% of basketball participants and 34% of Rugby League participants played at least once a week on average in the year ending April 2000 compared with 12% of outdoor cricket players and 14% of those involved in athletics.


FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS

Children living in couple families had a higher rate of participation in organised sport (61%) than those living in one-parent families (51%).

Children living in couple families with both parents born overseas in countries other than the main English-speaking countries and children living with a single parent born in one of these countries were least likely to participate in organised sport outside of school hours—participation rates were 38% and 39% respectively.

Children living in couple families with both parents employed were more likely to participate in organised sport (69%) than those living in couple families with either one employed parent (53%) or no employed parents (41%).


NON-PARTICIPANTS

In the 12 months to April 2000, 30% of children aged 5 to 14 years did not participate in either organised sport or one of the four organised cultural activities (that is, playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing or drama) outside of school hours.

Of children aged 5 to 8 years, 39% were not involved in these organised sport or cultural activities compared with 23% of children aged 9 to 11 years and 27% of children aged 12 to 14 years.

Nearly half (48%) of children born overseas in countries other than the main English-speaking countries were not involved in these activities. A much lower percentage (28%) of children born overseas in the main English-speaking countries were not involved in these activities.

Over half (51%) of children living with a single parent who was not employed did not participate in organised sport or one of the selected cultural activities compared with less than a quarter (21%) of children living in a couple family with two employed parents.


SELECTED LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Participation in the five selected leisure activities outside of school hours during the previous two school weeks ranged from 31% for art and craft activities to 97% for watching TV or videos. Boys and girls were equally likely to watch TV or videos; however, there were significant differences between the sexes for the other leisure activities.

PARTICIPATION IN SELECTED LEISURE ACTIVITIES
Participation in selected leisure activities



SKATEBOARDING OR ROLLERBLADING

Skateboarding or rollerblading was undertaken outside of school hours by 31% of children in the past two school weeks. The activity was more popular with boys (36%) than girls (26%). The percentage of children skateboarding or rollerblading peaked at 39% for children aged 8 years; this compares with 20% of 5 year olds and 21% of 14 year olds.

PARTICIPATION IN SKATEBOARDING OR ROLLERBLADING
Participation in skateboarding or rollerblading



Skateboarding or rollerblading was most popular in the Northern Territory, where it was undertaken by 46% of children aged 5 to 14 years, and least popular in South Australia (26%).

Children born in Australia (32%) and in the main English-speaking overseas countries (29%) were more likely to skateboard or rollerblade than those born in other countries (19%). Children living in one-parent families were more likely to skateboard or rollerblade than those living in couple families (37% and 30% respectively).

Of the skateboarders and rollerbladers, boys spent more time on this activity than girls: the average time spent skateboarding and rollerblading in the past two school weeks was 6 hours for boys and 4 hours for girls.


BIKE RIDING

Over the same two weeks, 64% of children aged 5 to 14 years (71% of boys and 56% of girls) rode a bike outside of school hours. The difference in participation between the sexes is small for children aged 5 to 8 years. However, for children aged 14 years, the percentage of boys riding bikes (61%) is over twice that of girls (28%).

PARTICIPATION IN BIKE RIDING
Participation in bike riding



The highet participation rates for bike riding among children were in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory (both 73%), while the lowest was in New South Wales (59%). In the two-week period, 60% of children living in the six State capital cities rode bikes outside of school hours compared with 69% of children living elsewhere.

Children born in Australia (65%) and other main English-speaking countries (62%) were more likely to ride bikes than those born elsewhere (44%).

Of the bike riders, boys spent more time riding than girls: the average time was 7 hours for boys and 5 hours for girls in the most recent two school weeks. About one-quarter (27%) of boys who rode bikes spent at least 10 hours bike riding during the two weeks compared with 16% of girls.


WATCHING TELEVISION OR VIDEOS

Television or videos were watched outside of school hours by 97% of children in the two-week period. There were no significant differences in participation rates for this activity between sexes, age groups, birthplaces and place of usual residence. However, there were significant differences across the age groups in the time spent on this activity. About 45% of viewers aged 5 to 8 years watched at least 20 hours of TV or videos in the two-week period compared with 53% of viewers aged 9 to 11 years and 59% of those aged 12 to 14 years.


PLAYING ELECTRONIC OR COMPUTER GAMES

Electronic or computer games were played by 69% of children (79% of boys and 58% of girls) outside of school hours in the past two school weeks. Participation rates ranged from 65% for boys aged 5 years to between 82% and 84% for boys aged 9 years and over. For girls, participation in electronic and computer games rose from 44% at 5 years of age to a peak of 66% at 11 years of age and fell to 53% for 14 year old girls.

Children living in couple families with both parents employed had higher levels of participation in electronic or computer games (72%) than those living in couple families with no employed parents (58%).

Among those who had played these games, the average time spent on this activity in the most recent two school weeks was 9 hours for boys and 6 hours for girls.


ART AND CRAFT ACTIVITIES

In the same two-week period, 44% of children (55% of girls and 34% of boys) spent time on art and craft activities outside of school hours. For both the boys and girls, participation in art and craft activities was less popular for the older age groups: rates ranged from 61% for 5 year old children to 25% for 14 year olds.

PARTICIPATION IN ART AND CRAFT ACTIVITIES
Participation in art and craft activities



Tasmania (54%) and the Australian Capital Territory (53%) had the highest rates of participation in art and craft activities while New South Wales (41%) had the lowest.

Children born in Australia and other main English-speaking countries had higher participation rates (both 45%) in art and craft activities than those born elsewhere (31%).

Participants spent an average of 7 hours on art and craft activities outside of school hours during the two-week period.


COMPUTER USAGE AND INTERNET ACCESS

In the 12 months to April 2000, 95% (nearly 2.5 million) of children aged 5 to 14 years used a computer during or outside of school hours.

Usage increased with age from 79% of children aged 5 years to over 98% of children aged between 11 years and 14 years. There was no significant difference in usage between the sexes.

PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN USING A COMPUTER AND ACCESSING THE INTERNET
Participation of children using a computer and accessing the Internet



South Australia and Tasmania had the highest percentage of children using a computer (both 98%) while the Northern Territory and New South Wales had the lowest usage rates (92% and 93% respectively). There was no significant difference in the usage rates of children living in the six State capital cities and the rest of Australia.

Across all age groups, school was the most common place for computers to be used, followed by the child's home. Of children who used computers in the 12-month period, 94% used computers at school, 76% used them at home, 40% used them at someone else's home and 14% used those provided in public libraries.

Nearly 1.9 million children (71% of all Australian children aged 5 to 14 years) used a computer at home. For 5 to 8 year olds who used a computer at home, the most common activities on the computer were playing games (89%) and school or educational uses (70%). Older children were more likely to use the computer at home for school or educational activities: of users aged 12 to 14 years, 95% used computers for these activities followed by 78% for playing games. In addition, older children used home computers more frequently with 85% of 12 to 14 year old users using them at least twice a week, compared with 63% of 5 to 8 year old home computer users.


INTERNET ACCESS

The Internet was accessed by 1.2 million children during or outside of school hours in the 12 months ending April 2000. These children represented 47% of all Australian children aged 5 to 14 years and 49% of children who used computers. The percentage of all children accessing the Internet ranged from 8% for children aged 5 years to 76% for children aged 14 years.

Western Australia and Tasmania had the highest percentages of children accessing the Internet (55% and 54% respectively) while New South Wales had the lowest (41%). Children living in the six State capital cities were no more or less likely than those living elsewhere to access the Internet.

Children living with a single parent born overseas in the main English-speaking countries were more likely to access the Internet (59%) than children living in couple families with both parents born in other overseas countries (33%).

Children's access to the Internet varied with the employment status of their parents. Children living in one-parent families with their parent employed were most likely to access the Internet (55%), while those living in couple families with no employed parent (31%) were least likely to do so.

Of children who accessed the Internet in the 12 months to April 2000, 67% accessed the Internet at school, 56% did so at home and 21% had access at someone else's home.

Across all ages, the most popular reason for accessing the Internet at home was school or educational uses (83% of all home Internet users). Of those aged 12 to 14 years, 64% accessed the Internet for email or chat rooms compared with 89% for school or educational uses. Older children accessed the Internet more frequently with 71% of 12 to 14 year old home Internet users accessing it at least twice a week at home compared with 35% of 5 to 8 year old users.


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents results from the first comprehensive study by the ABS of the leisure and computer activities of Australian children aged 5 to 14 years.

Specifically, it provides details on participation in selected organised cultural activities and organised sports outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2000. It also provides information on participation in selected leisure activities (such as bike riding and watching television or videos) outside of school hours during the most recent two school weeks prior to interview. Lastly, this publication presents details on computer usage by children both during and outside of school hours over the 12-month period prior to interview.

Information is provided on the characteristics of children who participated in the activities. In addition, details on frequency or duration for some of the activities are provided


FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information about these statistics, please contact Theo Neumann on (08) 8237 7449 or email nccrs@abs.gov.au

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