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Audience trends

Children’s average daily discretionary time by sex and age, 2007

In 2007, over 1,000 children were surveyed between 6 am to 2 am over three days. Their activities during this 20-hour period were divided into non-discretionary (i.e. compulsory activities like sleep and time in the school classroom) and discretionary time (i.e. voluntary activities like spending time with friends or watching television). In addition, children recorded simultaneous activities.

Although boys recorded more discretionary time, girls undertook more simultaneous activities. When accounting for the shared blocks of discretionary time, girls spent slightly more time than boys participating in voluntary activities.

Age has little effect on the split between non-discretionary and discretionary time, although there is a gradual increase in discretionary time for older children. The most significant increase was recorded in time spent undertaking simultaneous activities. Children aged 15–17 spent over 3 hours more than those aged 8–11, and over 2 hours more than those aged 12–14, undertaking multiple activities.

  Non-discretionary time1
(av. hours/day)
Discretionary time2
(av. hours/day)
Shared blocks of discretionary time3
(av. hours/day)
Simultaneous activities4
(av. hours/day)
Total 12:13 7:02 9:52 2:50
Sex
Boys 12:04 7:11 9:49 2:38
Girls 12:24 6:51 9:54 3:03
Age
8–11 12:18 6:57 8:45 1:48
12–14 12:11 7:04 9:47 2:43
15–17 12:07 7:08 12:04 4:56

Source: Compiled by Screen Australia using data published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in Media and Communications in Australian Families, 2007.

Notes:
Data is based on a sample of 751 households with children aged 8-17. In total 1,003 children were surveyed.
1. Non-discretionary time between 6 am and 2 am. Includes sleep, travel, personal care, chores/jobs or time spent in class at school. Does not include homework.
2. Discretionary time between 6 am and 2 am.
3. Includes all discretionary time between 6 am and 2 am, plus time spent undertaking simultaneous activities.
4. Time spent undertaking simultaneous activities; also called multitasking.

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