4147.4.55.001 - Culture and Recreation News, Mar 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/03/2007   
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In April 2006, the ABS conducted a national survey to gather information on various cultural and leisure activities undertaken by children aged 5–14 years. The results are published in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0). This, along with all other ABS publications, is available for download free of charge from the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>.

Participation in organised cultural activities

The survey found that 33% of children aged 5–14 years (869,600 children) were involved in at least one of the four selected organised cultural activities outside of school hours in the 12 months to April 2006. Playing a musical instrument was the most popular (20%), followed by dancing (12%), singing (6%) and drama (4%). Girls were twice as likely as boys (44% compared with 22%) to participate in at least one of these.

Attendance at cultural venues and events

In the 12 months to April 2006, 1.9 million children (71%) attended at least one of the selected cultural venues or events outside of school hours. Some 55% of children visited a public library, while 37% visited a museum or art gallery and 30% attended a performing arts event.

Participation in organised sport

About 1.7 million children aged 5–14 years (63%) participated outside of school hours in sport that had been organised by a school, club or association in the 12 months to April 2006. Across all ages, boys had a higher rate of participation than girls (69% overall compared with 58%). However, when dancing was taken into account as an alternative physical activity to sport, the participation rates in organised sport or dancing were 69% for boys and 66% for girls. The sports that attracted most boys were outdoor soccer (20% or 268,500) and swimming (17% or 225,700). For girls, the most popular sports were swimming (18% or 236,800) and netball (17% or 224,100).

Participation in selected leisure and other activities

Information was collected about children's participation in a range of leisure activities. During the last two school weeks prior to interview

  • 97% (2.6 million) watched television, videos or DVDs
  • 83% (2.2 million) did homework or other study
  • 74% (2.0 million) read for pleasure
  • 68% (1.8 million) went bike riding
  • 64% (1.7 million) played electronic or computer games
  • 49% (1.3 million) spent time on art or craft activities
  • 24% (628,000) went skateboarding or rollerblading.

Use of computers and the Internet

Around 2.5 million children (92%) used a computer and 1.7 million children (65%) accessed the Internet either during or outside school hours in the 12 months to April 2006. Usage of the Internet increased markedly with age, from 19% of children aged 5 years to 90% of children aged 13 years.