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4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, June 2013  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2013   
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SQUARE EYES AND COUCH POTATOES CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND SCREEN-BASED ACTIVITIES


INTRODUCTION

The topic of children's participation in physical activity and their participation in screen-based activities is important in the context of rising concerns about obesity and the health benefits of active lifestyles through childhood and into adulthood.

In 2007-08 the ABS National Health Survey found that one quarter (25%) of Australian children aged 5 to 17 years were either overweight or obese. This proportion has remained stable with updated results from the 2011-12 ABS Australian Health Survey indicating that approximately 26% of children were either overweight or obese. The World Health Organisation identifies childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges and highlights regular physical activity as one of the ways this may be reduced (Endnote 1). The 2013 Australian dietary guidelines state that the use of media, such as watching television, may displace the time children spend participating in physical activities (Endnote 2).

An article featured in the June 2010 edition of Perspectives on Sport used 2009 Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (CPCLA) data to explore the time children aged 5-14 years spent on screen-based activities and organised sport. The 2009 data revealed that, compared with participation in physical activities such as organised sport, children had higher participation rates for all screen-based activities asked about in the survey. In addition, children who spent more time participating in these activities had lower participation rates in organised sport. Results from the 2012 CPCLA revealed similar findings which will be presented in this article.

Due to scope and definitional changes to the 2012 survey, the categories 'Other organised sport', 'At least one organised sport', and 'Organised sport and/or dancing' are different in 2012 compared with the 2003, 2006 and 2009 CPCLA surveys. With the focus now on organised sports, physical activities that are not organised sports, such as jogging for exercise and gym workouts, were excluded from the 2012 survey. Numerous sports have also had changes to their definitions compared with previous survey iterations. Consequently this article will not be presenting time series comparisons. For more information please refer to the explanatory notes of the publication Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2012 (cat. no. 4901.0).

The CPCLA survey collects information on children's participation in cultural activities and organised sports outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview. It also collects information on participation in selected leisure activities (including screen-based activities) outside of school hours during the most recent two school weeks prior to interview. Readers should keep in mind that the leisure activities included in the CPCLA survey do not constitute all possible types of physical activity that may be undertaken by children.

The CPCLA survey collects information about children's participation in dancing separately to information about participation in organised sport, as it is generally collected as a 'cultural' activity. However, due to its popularity as a physical recreation activity for girls it is being included with organised sport for the purpose of this analysis in order to allow for a more complete analysis of children's physical activity levels. The CPCLA survey also collects information on children's participation in bike riding, skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter. While these are classified as recreational activities in the CPCLA survey they are physical in nature and will be included where possible in this article.

    PARTICIPATION IN SELECTED ACTIVITIES

    In the last two weeks of school most children participated in the physical activities asked about in the survey. Approximately two thirds of children aged 5-14 years participated in organised sport and/or dancing (66%) or went bike riding (64%) and over half (54%) participated in skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter.

    However, the proportion watching TV, DVDs and videos and participating in other screen-based activities was much higher compared with the selected physical activities. Other screen-based activities refers to 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. In the last two weeks of school, 96% watched TV, DVDs or videos while 85% of children participated in other screen-based activities.
    PARTICIPATION BY SEX

    Both boys and girls participated in watching TV, DVDs or videos at a similar rate (96%), but boys had a higher participation rate for other screen-based activities (87%) compared with girls (84%). Girls also had lower participation rates in skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (47%) and bike riding (57%) compared with boys (60% and 70% respectively). Boys had a slightly higher participation rate for organised sport and/or dancing (67%) compared with girls (65%) however there was not enough evidence to suggest that this difference was statistically significant.

    Children's participation in selected activities (a), By sex
    Graph: Children's participation in selected activities (a), By sex



    PARTICIPATION BY AGE

    The proportion of children watching TV, DVDs or videos was consistent across all age groups at 96%. However, participation differed between age groups for the other selected activities.

    Participation in organised sport and/or dancing was highest for those aged 9-11 years (73%) with children aged 5-8 years and those aged 12-14 years having a similar participation rate (64% for both).

    The proportion of children participating in other screen-based activities was highest for older children, with 93% of those aged 12-14 years participating compared with 77% of those aged 5-8 years. In contrast, children aged 12-14 years had the lowest participation rates in both skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter and bike riding.

    Children's participation in selected activities (a), By age
    Graph: Children's participation in selected activities (a), By age

    TIME SPENT PARTICIPATING

    The 2012 CPCLA survey found that children spent less time participating in physical activity than participating in screen-based activities.

    Of the children who participated in organised sport and/or dancing 40% participated for 2 hours or less in the last two weeks of school. Similarly, 52% of children skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter and 45% of those bike riding in the last two weeks of school did so for 2 hours or less. In contrast, only 5% of children watched TV, DVDs or videos for 2 hours or less while under a quarter (21%) spent 2 hours or less on other screen-based activities.

    Over a third (38%) of children watched TV, DVDs or videos in the last two weeks of school did so for 10-19 hours while over a quarter (27%) participated in other screen-based activities for this length of time. A higher proportion of children spent 20 hours or more watching TV, DVDs or videos (31%) compared with time spent on the other activities.

    Children participating in selected activities, Duration in last two weeks of school
    Graph: Children participating in selected activities, Duration in last two weeks of school



    TIME SPENT PARTICIPATING BY SEX

    On average, in the last two school weeks, both girls and boys spent less time participating in the selected physical activities compared with screen-based activities. Both boys and girls spent approximately 15 hours watching TV, DVDs or videos and 10 hours on other-screen based activities. Boys spent more time skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (5 hours compared with 4 hours) and bike riding (6 hours compared with 4 hours). While girls spent longer participating in organised sport and/or dancing (7 hours) compared with boys (6 hours) there was not enough evidence to suggest that this difference was statistically significant.

    Average time children spent participating in selected activities (a), By sex
    Graph: Average time children spent participating in selected activities (a), By sex


    In 2012, time spent watching TV, DVDs or videos was similar for boys and girls. A different pattern is noticeable for participation in other screen-based activities and for the selected physical activities.

    Of the 85% of children who participated in other screen-based activities in 2012, girls (25%) were more likely than boys (18%) to have spent 2 hours or less on this activity. At the other extreme, boys (16%) were more likely than girls (14%) to spend 20 hours or more on other screen-based activities.

    A higher proportion of girls spent 20 hours or more participating in organised sport and/or dancing (5%) compared with boys (3%). Although a higher proportion of girls (41%) than boys (39%) spent 2 hours or less participating there was not enough evidence to suggest that this difference was statistically significant.

    Girls generally spent 2 hours or less skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (59%) and bike riding (51%) compared with 41% and 47% of boys, respectively.

    Proportion of children participating in organised sport and/or dancing(a) and selected recreational activities, Duration in the last two weeks of school(b)(c) - By sex - 2012

    Organised sport/dancing
    Skateboarding,
    rollerblading or
    riding a scooter
    Bike riding
    Watching TV,
    DVDs or videos
    Other screen-
    based
    activities
    %
    %
    %
    %
    %

    Boys
    2 hours or less(d)
    38.8
    46.9
    41.0
    5.2
    17.9
    3-4 hours
    22.8
    18.5
    19.6
    8.0
    14.5
    5-9 hours
    23.4
    18.8
    18.4
    16.7
    21.5
    10-19 hours
    11.4
    12.2
    16.2
    37.4
    28.7
    20 hours or more
    3.2
    2.9
    4.0
    31.5
    16.1
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    Girls
    2 hours or less(d)
    40.5
    58.8
    51.1
    5.1
    24.6
    3-4 hours
    20.9
    17.9
    20.1
    8.1
    15.5
    5-9 hours
    22.5
    13.6
    15.9
    17.0
    19.2
    10-19 hours
    10.5
    7.4
    10.3
    37.7
    25.4
    20 hours or more
    5.4
    1.3
    2.1
    31.0
    13.7
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    Persons
    2 hours or less(d)
    39.6
    52.0
    45.4
    5.1
    21.1
    3-4 hours
    21.9
    18.3
    19.8
    8.0
    15.0
    5-9 hours
    23.0
    16.6
    17.3
    16.9
    20.4
    10-19 hours
    11.0
    10.2
    13.6
    37.5
    27.1
    20 hours or more
    4.3
    2.2
    3.2
    31.3
    15.0
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0

    (a) Children aged 5 to 14 years who participated in organised sporting activities and/or were involved in dancing lessons or dancing performances during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2012.
    (b) The total number of hours children participated in organised sport and/or dancing outside of school hours during the two school weeks prior to interview in April 2012.
    (c) The number of hours children aged 5 to 14 years participated in selected recreational activities outside of school hours during the two school weeks prior to interview in April 2012.
    (d) Includes children who didn't participate in organised sport and/or dancing in the two school weeks prior to interview, but did participate during the 12 months prior to interview.
    (e) Includes could not be determined.
    Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2012 (cat. no. 4901.0).

    TIME SPENT PARTICIPATING BY AGE

    With the exception of bike riding, children aged 12-14 years spent more time participating in physical activities. However, 12-14 year olds also spent more time on screen-based activities.

    The participation rates for children who spent 20 hours or more on organised sport and/or dancing were higher for those aged 12-14 years (7%) compared with those aged 5-8 years (2%). This was also observed for skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (4% and 1% respectively). Of those who participated in bike riding, the proportion of children participating for 20 hours or more was similar across all age groups.

    Compared with the other age groups, a higher proportion of children aged 12-14 years spent 20 hours or more watching TV, DVDs or videos (37%) and participating in other screen-based activities (30%).

    Over half of children aged 5-8 years who participated in organised sport and/or dancing (51%) and skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (55%) did so for 2 hours or less while over one third (36%) participated in other screen-based activities for this length of time. These rates were significantly higher compared with children in the other age groups who spent 2 hours or less on these activities. The proportion of children watching TV, DVDs or videos for 2 hours or less, however, was similar across all age groups. Although a higher proportion of children aged 12-14 years went bike riding for 2 hours or less (48%) compared with those aged 9-11 years (45%) and 5-8 years (44%), there was not enough evidence to suggest that these differences were statistically significant.

    Proportion of children participating in organised sport and/or dancing(a) and selected recreational activities, Duration in the last two weeks of school(b)(c) - By age - 2012

    Organised sport/dancing
    Skateboarding,
    rollerblading or
    riding a scooter
    Bike riding
    Watching TV,
    DVDs or videos
    Other screen-based
    activities
    %
    %
    %
    %
    %

    5-8 years
    2 hours or less(d)
    51.5
    55.1
    44.3
    5.2
    35.7
    3-4 hours
    23.0
    17.4
    20.6
    9.6
    20.4
    5-9 hours
    17.5
    17.0
    18.1
    19.4
    21.6
    10-19 hours
    5.7
    8.6
    13.2
    38.9
    16.3
    20 hours or more
    2.3
    1.4
    3.2
    26.1
    5.2
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    9-11 years
    2 hours or less(d)
    34.3
    50.7
    45.2
    5.7
    18.1
    3-4 hours
    23.7
    19.0
    18.8
    7.9
    15.7
    5-9 hours
    26.0
    16.4
    17.5
    15.8
    23.7
    10-19 hours
    11.2
    11.1
    14.6
    36.7
    30.4
    20 hours or more
    4.5
    2.2
    3.5
    33.0
    11.1
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    12-14 years
    2 hours or less(d)
    29.7
    47.8
    48.0
    4.6
    7.7
    3-4 hours
    18.4
    19.0
    19.6
    5.9
    8.2
    5-9 hours
    27.0
    15.9
    15.4
    14.5
    16.0
    10-19 hours
    17.8
    12.0
    13.0
    36.5
    36.1
    20 hours or more
    6.6
    3.8
    2.8
    36.5
    29.5
    Total participants(e)
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0
    100.0

    (a) Children aged 5 to 14 years who participated in organised sporting activities and/or were involved in dancing lessons or dancing performances during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2012.
    (b) The total number of hours children participated in organised sport and/or dancing outside of school hours during the two school weeks prior to interview in April 2012.
    (c) The number of hours children aged 5 to 14 years participated in selected recreational activities outside of school hours during the two school weeks prior to interview in April 2012.
    (d) Includes children who didn't participate in organised sport and/or dancing in the two school weeks prior to interview, but did participate during the 12 months prior to interview.
    (e) Includes could not be determined.
    Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2012 (cat. no. 4901.0).

    ACCESSING THE INTERNET

    For most children, Internet use is part of everyday life with the majority (90%) of those aged 5-14 years accessing the Internet in the 12 months prior to April 2012. A recent AU Kids Online study found that, compared with 25 European nations, Australian children were amongst the youngest to start using the Internet at just under eight years old (Endnote 3).

    The proportion of children who accessed the Internet increased with age from 79% of children aged 5-8 years, to 96% of those aged 9-11 years and 98% of those aged 12-14 years. However there was not enough evidence to suggest that the difference in participation rates for children aged 9-11 years and those aged 12-14 years was statistically significant.

    Of the 81% of children who accessed the Internet at home, 90% used the Internet for educational activities, which was the most popular purpose both overall and across all age groups.

    Visiting or using social networking sites was only in the top 5 activities for children aged 12-14 years with over two-thirds (67%) using the Internet for this purpose compared with 21% of children aged 9-11 years and 4% of children aged 5-8 years.

    Listening to music or watching videos or movies was the second most popular activity for children aged 12-14 years (79%) and the third most popular for those aged 9-11 years (63%) and 5-8 years (47%).

    The proportion of children playing online games was lowest in the 12-14 year age group (60%) compared with children aged 5-8 years and 9-11 years (66% and 70% respectively).

    Top 5 Internet activities(a), By age - 2012

    PROPORTION
    %

    5-8 years
    Educational activities(b)
    83.6
    Playing online games(c)
    66.4
    Listening to music or watching videos or movies
    47.0
    Other general surfing or browsing
    22.7
    Downloading videos, movies or music
    12.9
    9-11 years
    Educational activities(b)
    92.8
    Playing online games(c)
    69.7
    Listening to music or watching videos or movies
    63.4
    Other general surfing or browsing
    40.7
    Downloading videos, movies or music
    34.0
    12-14 years
    Educational activities(b)
    94.0
    Listening to music or watching videos or movies
    79.2
    Visiting or using social networking sites
    67.1
    Playing online games(c)
    60.3
    Downloading videos, movies or music
    58.8

    (a) Children aged 5 to 14 years who used the Internet at home during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2012.
    (b) Includes research for assignments, homework, online classes, educational games.
    (c) Excludes online educational games.
    Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2012 (cat. no. 4901.0).



    Another way people access the Internet is by using their mobile phone. At the time of interview in April 2012, 29% of children had a mobile phone. Mobile phone ownership was more common in older age groups with 73% of children aged 12-14 years, 22% of children aged 9-11 years, and 2% of children aged 5-8 years owning a mobile phone. Only 11% of children aged 5-14 years used their mobile phone to access the Internet. Most of this usage can be attributable to the 12-14 year age group with almost one third (32%) of children in this age group accessing the Internet on their mobile.

    Children's use of mobile phones, By age


    IS INCREASED SCREEN TIME ASSOCIATED WITH LOWER SPORT PARTICIPATION?

    Results from the 2012 CPCLA suggest that participation rates in organised sport and/or dancing were lower for children who spent 20 hours or more participating in other screen-based activities. However time spent watching TV, DVDs and videos did not have as much of an impact on participation rates.

    Children who spent 20 hours or more participating in other screen-based activities in the last two weeks of school had lower participation rates in organised sport and/or dancing (62%). In contrast, children who spent less time participating in other screen-based activities had participation rates of over 68%.

    Just under two thirds (64%) of those who spent 20 hours or more watching TV, DVDs or videos participated in organised sport and/or dancing. This was a lower participation rate compared with children who spent 3-4 hours watching TV, DVDs or videos (72%) and children who spent 5-9 hours and 10-19 hours (69%) on this activity. However there was not enough evidence to suggest that this was significantly different to the participation rate for children who spent 2 hours or less watching TV, DVDs or videos (68%).

    Duration of children's participation in screen-based activities (a), By participation in organised sport and/or dancing (a)
    Graph: Duration of children's participation in screen-based activities (a), By participation in organised sport and/or dancing (a)



    In terms of Internet use and organised sports participation, children who accessed the Internet for longer were less likely to play sport in the 12 months prior to interview compared with children who spent fewer hours on the Internet at home.

    Participation in organised sport was lowest for children who accessed the Internet at home for 20 hours or more with 52% having played one sport or more while 48% played no sport at all in the 12 months prior to interview. In contrast, 69% of children who accessed the Internet at home for 2 hours or less participated in organised sport, with 31% not participating in organised sport.

    Hours child usually accessed Internet at home per week, By number of sports played (a)
    Graph: Hours child usually accessed Internet at home per week, By number of sports played (a)



    ENDNOTES

    1. World Health Organisation, Obesity and Overweight Fact Sheet, Accessed 26 February 2013 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/>

    2. Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines, Accessed 20 February 2013 <http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf>

    3. Green, L., Brady, D., “lafsson, K., Hartley, J. and Lumby, C., 2011, Risks and safety for Australian children on the Internet: Full findings from the AU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents, AU Kids Online, Accessed 27 February 2013 <http://cultural-science.org/journal/index.php/culturalscience/article/view/49/129>


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