4147.4.55.001 - Culture and Recreation News, Mar 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2010   
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In April 2009, 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 2009 (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 34% of children aged 5-14 years (916,300 children) were involved in at least one of the four selected organised cultural activities outside of school hours in the 12 months to April 2009. Playing a musical instrument was the most popular activity (20%), followed by had lessons or gave a dance performance (14%), had lessons or gave a singing performance (6%) and participated in drama (5%). Girls were almost twice as likely as boys (45% compared with 23%) to participate in at least one of these activities. The majority of children involved in cultural activities were involved in only one. Approximately 13% of girls and 4% of boys took part in two or more activities.

Attendance at cultural venues and events

In the 12 months to April 2009, 1.9 million children (71%) had attended, outside of school hours, at least one of the selected cultural venues or events. Some 54% (1.5 million) of children visited a public library, while 41% (1.1 million) visited a museum or art gallery and 34% (913,900) attended a performing arts event.

Participation in organised sport

Around 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 2009. The most popular sport for children was swimming with a participation rate of 19% (502,900). Across all ages, boys had a higher rate of participation than girls (74% overall compared with 55%). The sports that attracted most boys were outdoor soccer (20% or 277,800), swimming (17% or 240,100) and Australian Rules football (16% or 223,700). For girls, the most popular sports were swimming (20% or 262,800), netball (17% or 225,000) and gymnastics (8% or 101,200).

Participation in selected leisure and other activities

Information was collected about children's participation in a range of leisure and other activities in the previous two weeks (outside of school hours). During that two week period:

  • 97% (2.7 million) had watched television, DVDs or videos
  • 83% (2.3 million) had spent time on other screen-based activities
  • 82% (2.2 million) had done homework or other study
  • 72% (2.0 million) had read for pleasure
  • 60% (1.6 million) had been bike riding
  • 49% (1.3 million) had been skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter
  • 48% (1.3 million) spent time on art or craft activities.

Use of the Internet and mobile phones

In the 12 months prior to April 2009, an estimated 2.2 million children (79%) had accessed the Internet either during or outside school hours. A higher proportion of children used the Internet at home (92%) than at school (86%). Of the 2 million children who used the Internet at home, 42% usually used it for 2 hours or less per week, while 17% used it more than 10 hours per week.