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SQUARE EYES AND COUCH POTATOES CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN SCREEN-BASED ACTIVITIES
A new category was collected in 2009 called 'other screen-based activities'. This is defined as 'any screen-based activities aside from watching TV, DVDs and videos. This may include, but is not limited to, using the computer or Internet, playing games on a games console or mobile phone, and creating music playlists or viewing photos on an MP3 player'. The participation rate in other screen-based activities in 2009 was 83%.
TIME SPENT PARTICIPATING IN ORGANISED SPORT
The 2009 survey of CPCLA shows that the number of hours that children spent participating in organised sport in the two weeks prior to interview was similar to the number of hours spent in 2003. Most children in 2003 (39%) and in 2009 (41%) spent 2 hours or less participating in organised sport. At the opposite end of the scale, only 3% of children in 2003 and 4% in 2009 spent 20 hours or more. Changes in levels of participation in organised sport by children who participated for 5-9 hours and 10-19 hours were not significant.
On average, both boys and girls spent fewer hours in 2009 participating in organised sport (5 hours in the two weeks prior to interview) compared with participating in screen-based activities. Boys spent an average of 12 hours and girls spent an average of 10 hours on other screen-based activities. Both boys and girls spent more than three times the average number of hours watching TV, DVDs or videos (17 hours) than on organised sport participation.
WATCHING TV, DVDS OR VIDEOS AND OTHER SCREEN-BASED ACTIVITIES
Both time spent watching TV, DVDs or videos and time spent on other screen-based activities peaked at 10-19 hours with 38% and 28% respectively. Significantly more children spent 20 hours or more watching TV, DVDs or videos (36%) than on other screen-based activities (18%). There were also more children who spent 2 hours or less on other screen-based activities (18%) compared with those who watched TV, DVDs or videos (4%) for the same length of time.
Of the 83% of children who participated in other screen-based activities in 2009, 20% of boys and 16% of girls reported spending 20 hours or more on this activity. Girls (22%) were more likely than boys (14%) to have spent only 2 hours or less with equal proportions of boys and girls (21%) spending 5-9 hours.
Time spent on screen-based activities by age
In 2009, children's participation in watching TV, DVDs or videos did not vary between age groups. A different pattern is noticeable however, within the categories of other screen-based activities and accessing the Internet.
In 2009 the rate of children aged 12-14 years participating in other screen-based activities was 90%, significantly higher than the participation rate of children aged 5-8 years (74%). The rate of participation of children aged 12-14 years (96%) who accessed the Internet was also higher than those aged 9-11 years (89%). Although children in the youngest age group (5-8 years) were the least likely to have accessed the Internet (60%) or to have participated in other screen-based activities (74%), the rates still pointed to a substantial proportion of children in the age group being involved in these activities.
Not only does the rate of participation in other screen-based activities increase in the older age groups, older children are also spending more hours on the activity. In 2009, 34% of children aged 12 to 14 years spent 10-19 hours on other screen-based activities and 29% spent 20 hours or more. Of children aged 5-8 years the highest proportion (28%) spent 2 hours or less on other screen-based activities.
Accessing the Internet
The proportion of children who accessed the Internet increased with age from 60% of children aged 5-8 years, to 96% of children aged 12-14 years. The type of Internet activity also changed depending on age. Advancing technology has played a big part in the popularity of some activities and in changing the way that the Internet is used. An example of this is the current popularity of social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook which have only been introduced in the last few years (Endnote 4).
In 2009 the most popular type of Internet use at home for children aged 9 -11 and 12-14 years was educational activities with participation rates of more than 90% in both age groups. Educational activities is the second most popular type of Internet use for children aged 5-8 years with a participation rate of 64%.
For those children using the Internet playing online games was the most popular type of activity reported by children aged 5-8 years ( 77%) and was the second most popular type of Internet activity for children aged 9-11 years (73%). It was not one of five most popular types of Internet activity for children aged 12-14 years.
Other general Internet surfing or browsing was the third most popular type of Internet activity for children of all ages. Listening to or downloading music was also one of the five most popular types of Internet use for all age groups. Emailing, while popular for children aged 12-14 years (60%) and 9-11 years (31%), does not feature in the five most popular types of Internet activity for children aged 5-8 years. Almost 60% of 12-14 year olds used chat rooms, forums or instant messaging.
ORGANISED SPORT AND SCREEN-BASED ACTIVITIES
In 2009, the results of the CPCLA survey showed that as children spent more hours watching TV, DVDs or videos their rate of participation in organised sport decreased. Children who spent 20 hours or more watching TV, DVDs or videos in the two weeks prior to interview had a lower participation rate (62%) in sport than children who spent 4 hours or less (66%).
Time spent watching TV, DVDs or videos in the last two weeks, By participation in organised sport - 2009
Of children who spent 20 hours or more on other screen-based activities, 38% also spent two hours or less participating in organised sport with 27% spending 5-9 hours. The lowest proportion (4%) participated in organised sport for 20 hours or more.
Time spent participating in organised sport in last two weeks, By children who spent 20 hours or more on other screen-based activities-2009
Internet use and number of sports played
Of all children aged 5-14 years, more than one third (37%) played no sport. Of the children who did participate in sport, 33% played one sport, 19% played two sports and 10% played three or more. Of children who accessed the Internet for 20 hours or more 58% played one sport or more while 42% played no sport at all . Where children accessed the Internet for 4 hours or less per week, 28% played no sport and 72% played one sport or more.
Compared with children aged 5-8 years (60%) and 9-11 years (89%), children aged 12-14 years had the highest rate of participation in accessing the Internet (96%) in 2009.
Looking at children aged 12-14 years who usually accessed the Internet for 20 hours per week, 42% reported that they played no sport. In contrast 9% played three or more sports. Of those children who accessed the Internet for 4 hours or less per week 28% did not play any sport, 35% played one sport while 14% played three or more.
Mobile phones are becoming increasingly capable of doing much more than just making phone calls. This one device may now be used to access the Internet, play games and listen to music, providing yet another avenue for children to spend time on screen-based activities.
For the first time in 2009 the CPCLA collected data about children's mobile phone ownership and whether they used a mobile phone to access the Internet. At the time of interview, 31% of children had a mobile phone.
Only 2% of children aged 5-8 years owned a mobile phone compared with 23% of children aged 9-11 years and 76% of children aged 12-14 years. Children aged 5-8 years were more likely to use their mobile phone for contacting family (95%) compared with children aged 12-14 years (52%). Only 4% of children used their mobile phone to access the Internet.
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1. Australasian Leisure Management, Accessed 27 April, 2010 <http://www.ausleisure.com.au/default.asp?PageID=1&ReleaseID=2208&Display=True>
2. World Health Organisation, Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, Overweight and Obesity, Accessed 27 April 2010 <http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_young_people/en/index.html>
3. Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, A healthy and Active Australia, Accessed 27 April, 2010 <http://www.healthyactive.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/publishing.nsf/Content/overweight-obesity>
4. Wikipedia, Accessed 27 April 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/>
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