Children spending more hours a week on screen-based activities

Media Release

Nine in ten children (90 per cent) spend at least one hour a week on screen-based activities, with a rise in children spending more than 20 hours a week, according to new data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

While the percentage of children aged 5-14 years using screens remained the same (90 per cent) compared with 2017-18, the amount of time has increased.

Michelle Ducat, ABS head of education statistics, said: “Of children doing screen-based activities, 40 per cent were spending 10-19 hours, but there has been an increase in the percentage of children using screens for more than 20 hours a week, from 16 per cent to 24 per cent.

“Reading for pleasure was considerably less popular than screen-based activities, with 72 per cent of children reading, down from 79 per cent in 2017-18. Around one third of these children read for two hours or less a week.”

Participation in screen-based activities remained constant across age groups, but reading for pleasure was less popular with older age groups (63 per cent of 12 to 14-year-olds read books compared with 76 per cent of 5 to 8-year-olds).

In 2021-22, children participating in a creative activity fell to 59 per cent from 63 per cent in 2017-18.

“Arts and crafts were the most popular creative activity among children, with 39 per cent of children participating at least once a week. This was followed by singing or playing musical instruments and creative writing, both with 19 per cent of children involved in these activities,” Ms Ducat said.

Creative activities were less popular for older children (55 per cent of 12 to 14-year-olds participating in a creative activity compared with 60 per cent of 5 to 8-year-olds).

Creative activities were also more popular among girls (67 per cent) compared with boys (52 per cent).

Cultural and creative activities offers insights about participation in, and attendance at, cultural and creative activities and events for adults and children.

Media notes

  • An activity in which a child has participated in occurs outside of school hours of 9am to 3pm.
  • Creative activities include drama activities, singing, playing a musical instrument, and dancing.
  • Screen-based activities include watching TV, using the Internet, or playing screen-based games (including playing games on consoles and activities via smart phones or tablets).
  • Reading for pleasure includes reading magazines, newspapers, comics, eBooks, and where a child requires assistance to read.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
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