4901.0 - Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/01/2004   
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Children prefer TV, reading and computer games to sport and art

Watching TV or videos out of school hours remains the most common recreational activity of children aged 5 to 14 years (98% of children) with the average time spent watching TV or videos being 22 hours over a fortnight, during a school term, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Reading for pleasure was the next most common leisure activity among children. Outside of school, three in four children (75%) spent time reading for pleasure. Girls were more likely to read than boys (82% and 68%, respectively). Girls read for an average of 8.6 hours during the fortnight compared with 7.1 hours for boys.

Outside of school during a school term, more than seven in ten children (71%) played electronic or computer games. In contrast to reading for pleasure, boys were more likely to have played electronic and computer games than girls (82% and 59%, respectively). Boys played electronic or computer games for an average of 9 hours per fortnight compared with 5.3 hours for girls.

During the 12 months to April 2003, an estimated 1.6 million children (62%) participated in organised sport in their free time. This is a 2 percentage point increase from April 2000. Across all the age groups, boys had a higher participation rate (69%) in organised sport than girls (54%). There was an increase in the participation rate for boys, from 66% in 2000.

The most popular organised sports for boys were outdoor soccer (22%), swimming (16%) and Australian Rules football (14%). For girls, it was netball (18%), swimming (17%) and tennis (8%). The average time spent playing organised sports was five hours per fortnight.

Nearly one in three children (29%) were involved in at least one of the four organised cultural activities that were surveyed - 17% of children played a musical instrument, 12% danced, 5% sang and 4% were involved in drama activities outside of school hours.

In contrast to the results for organised sport, girls were more than twice as likely to have participated in organised cultural activities than boys (43% compared with 17%).

Since April 2000 there was an overall increase in the participation rate for girls in organised cultural activities from 40% in 2000 to 43% in 2003. Conversely, there was an overall decrease in the participation rate in organised cultural activities for boys from 20% in 2000 to 17% in 2003.

Further details are in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2003 (cat. no. 4901.0).