Darryn Smith

Most Aussie kids spend spare time staring at screens

AUSTRALIAN children are spending three times as long staring at screens as they are hitting the books, new research shows.

The New Generations study of children's media habits, commissioned by pay-TV channel Cartoon Network, showed children aged 4-14 spent 55% of their spare time in front of a screen - be it a TV, computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Homework was next at 16%, followed by playing with toys (12%), music (7%), sport (6%) and shopping (4%).

Television and the internet were by far the most popular media consumed by children, while there was a sharp drop in the consumption of traditional forms of media like newspapers and cinema.

Children in the age bracket said they watched 10 minutes of online video every day, chiefly movies, music videos and TV as opposed to sites like YouTube.

Interestingly, the use of gaming consoles fell by 32% since the 2011 survey, a trend most likely driven by increased app usage.

Almost seven in 10 children were found to be regular users of apps, most of which are free.

The research found there were 1.8 devices per household capable of connecting to the internet.

Turner Broadcasting System senior research manager Peter Hammer said Cartoon Network used the research to see what makes "kids tick".

The theme of this year's report was Kids In Charge, with the researchers speaking to 1800 children aged 4-14 years and their parents to compile the report, the 10th of its kind.

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