The statistical information on this site may not be the latest. For the most up to date information visit the ABS website abs.gov.au

Latest release

Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia

Participation of children aged 5-14 years in cultural, sporting and other leisure activities plus children’s internet and mobile phones use

Reference period
April 2012

Cultural activities

In the 12 months to April 2012, more than one third of children aged 5 to 14 years (35% or 980,700) participated in at least one organised cultural activity (playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, drama or organised art and craft) outside of school hours. The proportion of children participating in dancing in 2012 (15%) has increased since 2006 (13%), while the proportion who played a musical instrument decreased (18% compared with 20%). (Table 1)

Nearly half (47%) of all females participated in at least one organised cultural activity, compared with 24% of males. Dancing was the most popular activity for females (367,400 participants), followed by playing a musical instrument (261,400 participants). Ninety-six percent of females who participated in dancing received dancing lessons within the 12 months prior to April 2012. (Tables 2 and 4)

More males played a musical instrument (228,800) than any other selected organised cultural activity. (Table 2)

Children's participation in organised cultural activities outside of school hours was higher in couple families (38%) than one-parent families (27%). (Table 2)

Cultural venues and events

The survey collected data on attendance at selected cultural venues and events including: visiting a public library; visiting a museum or art gallery; and attending a performing arts event. In the 12 months to April 2012, at least one of these venues or events was attended by 71% of children aged 5 to 14 years outside of school hours. More children visited a museum or art gallery (43%) than in 2006 (37%), and more children attended a performing arts event (39%) than in 2006 (30%) or 2009 (34%). One and a half million children (53%) visited a public library in the 12 months to April 2012, which was a similar proportion to previous years. (Table 1)

The overall rate of attendance at cultural venues and events was higher for females (74%) than males (68%). Children aged 12 to 14 years were the least likely to have visited a public library (50% attendance rate) compared with children aged 5 to 8 years or 9 to 11 years (both 54%). Similarly, attendance at museums and art galleries was lowest for the 12 to 14 years age group (39%) compared with children aged 9 to 11 years (46%) and children aged 5 to 8 years (45%). (Table 6)

On average, in the 12 months to April 2012, children visited a public library 15 times, a museum or art gallery 3 times and attended 3 performing arts events. (Table 7)

Sports participation

In the 12 months to April 2012, of the 2.8 million children aged 5 to 14 years, 1.7 million (60%) participated in at least one organised sport outside of school hours. (Table 1)

Approximately two thirds (66%) of all children aged between 9 and 11 years participated in organised sport, higher than the participation rates of those aged 5 to 8 years and 12 to 14 years (56% and 60% respectively). More males (949,000) participated than females (727,000). Participation was higher for children born in Australia (61%) compared with those born overseas (52%) and higher for children in couple families (64%) compared with those living in one-parent families (48%). Participation rates varied between the states and territories, with the highest participation rate in the Australian Capital Territory (73%). (Table 8)

The most popular sport for males was outdoor soccer, with 309,700 participants and a participation rate of 22%. Nineteen percent of all females (256,900) participated in swimming and diving, the most popular sport for this group, followed by netball (220,400 females or 16%). (Table 11)

On average, children spent five hours in the last school fortnight playing and training in organised sport outside of school hours. (Table 13)

Recreational activities

Since 2006, the proportion of children reading for pleasure decreased from 75% to 71%. The proportion of children watching TV, DVDs or videos fell slightly from 2009 (97% to 96%), while the proportion of children participating in other screen-based activities (including the use of a computer, the internet and games consoles) rose from 83% in 2009 to 85% in 2012. Children's participation in more active recreational activities increased since 2009, with the proportion of children skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter rising from 49% to 54%, and the proportion of children bike riding increasing from 60% to 64%. (Table 1)

In the 12 months to April 2012, children spent more time watching TV, DVDs or videos than any of the other selected recreational activities. On average, children spent 15 hours watching TV, DVDs or videos outside of school hours in the last school fortnight, followed by 10 hours on other screen-based activities. Children spent the least amount of time skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter in the two school weeks prior to interview (an average of 4 hours) and bike riding (5 hours). (Table 17)

A higher proportion of males were involved in skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (60%) and bike riding (70%) than females (47% and 57% respectively), while more females were involved in recreational art and craft (54%) and reading for pleasure (77%) than males (33% and 65% respectively). (Table 16)

Internet and mobile phones

The majority (90%) of children aged 5 to 14 years accessed the Internet in the 12 months to April 2012. This proportion has steadily increased from 65% in 2006 and 79% in 2009. (Table 1)

Generally, the proportion of children who accessed the internet increased with age, with 79% of children 5 to 8 years having accessed the internet, 96% of 9 to 11 year olds and 98% of 12 to 14 year olds. The difference in the participation rates was not statistically significant between children living in major cities (91%) and remote and very remote areas of Australia (88%). A similar number of children accessed the internet at home (2.3 million) and at school (2.2 million). (Tables 18 and 19)

Of the 2.3 million children who accessed the internet at home, 90% (2 million children) used the internet for educational activities, which was the most popular purpose. (Table 19)

In April 2012, 818,500 children aged 5 to 14 years (29%) had a mobile phone. The proportion of females with mobile phones (31%) was higher than males (28%), and the likelihood of having a mobile phone increased with age, with 2% of children aged between 5 and 8 years having one, increasing to 22% of 9 to 11 year olds and 73% of 12 to 14 year olds. A higher proportion of children born overseas had a mobile phone (35%) compared with those born in Australia (29%), and a higher proportion of children from one-parent families had a mobile phone (35%) compared with those in couple families (28%). (Tables 1 and 18)

Data downloads

Table 1 Children participating in selected activities, by sex —2006, 2009 and 2012

Table 2 Children's participation in selected organised cultural activities, selected characteristics

Table 3 Children participating in selected organised cultural activities, by number of activities and sex

Table 4 Children participating in selected organised cultural activities, by sex and whether lessons received in last 12 months

Table 5 Children participating in selected organised cultural activities, duration in last two weeks of school

Table 6 Children's attendance at selected cultural venues and events, selected characteristics

Table 7 Children attending selected cultural venues and events, frequency in last 12 months

Table 8 Children's participation in organised sport, selected characteristics

Table 9 Children participating in organised sports, by number of sports and sex

Table 10 Children participating in organised sport, frequency in last 12 months—by age and sex

Table 11 Children participating in most popular organised sports, by sex

Table 12 Children participating in top 12 organised sports, frequency in last 12 months

Table 13 Children participating in organised sport, duration in last two weeks of school—by age and sex

Table 14 Children's participation in organised sport and/or dancing, selected characteristics

Table 15 Children's participation in organised sport and/or selected organised cultural activities, selected characteristics

Table 16 Children's participation in selected recreational activities, selected characteristics

Table 17 Children participating in selected recreational activities, duration in last two weeks of school—by sex

Table 18 Children's internet access and mobile phone ownership, selected characteristics

Table 19 Children's internet use, by age

Data item list

Table 20 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – New South Wales

Table 21 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Victoria

Table 22 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Queensland

Table 23 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – South Australia

Table 24 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Western Australia

Table 25 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Tasmania

Table 26 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Northern Territory

Table 27 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, 2012 – Australian Capital Territory

History of changes

Show all

13/02/2012 - Minor changes have been made to the names of tables 1-19. The previously released datacubes have been numbered to assist in identifying tables.

11/02/2012 - An additional 2 data sheets for each state and territory datacube have been released. These data sheets present additional state and territory information about the participation of children in selected culture and leisure activities. The data is additional to that previously released in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2012 on 31 October 2012

05/02/2012 - An additional 8 datacubes have been released. These datacubes present state and territory information about the participation of children in selected culture and leisure activities. The data is additional to that previously released in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2012 on 31 October 2012.