Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Insight into the Australian family

An Australian Government-funded report has found parents are becoming increasingly vigilant about the impact of media and technology on their children’s education and personal development.

The Annual Report – Growing up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children – found 96 per cent of parents surveyed were conscious of their children’s use of media and technology and impose rules around what programs children can watch on television.

Parents are also observant about how their children use the computer, with 94 per cent of parents having rules around computer usage.

A minority of surveyed parents, 21 per cent or less, expressed concern over their child’s use of technology, with concern more prevalent in the 9-10 year old age bracket.

The study, commissioned by the Australian Government, follows 10,000 children over the course of their youth, and measures their physical, learning and cognitive development as well as their social and emotional functioning. The Annual Report includes findings from nearly 6000 of the parents involved in the study.

This report gives valuable insights into the everyday lives of families and helps the Government design policies and programs that will make a difference.

One of the key responsibilities of all governments is ensuring children are healthy, safe and happy to give them the best start in life.

Ninety-six per cent of 9 to 10 year old children surveyed have access to a computer at home. They reported using a computer for a variety of activities at least once a week, including homework (59 per cent), playing DVDs (46 per cent), finding information not related to school (44 per cent), playing games – not on internet (44 per cent), and visiting social networking sites (11 per cent).

One in ten children, aged 9-10, surveyed had access to a mobile phone for their own use.

The report found that 98 per cent of parents of 5-6 year olds who were surveyed, and 94 per cent of parents of 9-10 year olds who were surveyed, were satisfied or very satisfied with their children’s education.

The report found 91 per cent of surveyed parents with 9-10 year old children were satisfied with their child’s progress in maths, 93 per cent with reading, and 94 per cent with their child’s overall progress.

Parents surveyed in both the 5-6 and 9-10 year old categories overwhelmingly reported positive relationships between their child and their teacher, with 99 per cent of parents reporting as much in both groups.

Relationships between parents and teachers and parents and their child’s school were rated as positive by more than 95 per cent of surveyed parents in both groups.

The majority of children also continue to get the recommended 10-11 hours per night of sleep on both school and non-school nights, with 33 per cent of 5-6 years olds getting more than 11 hours. Six per cent receive less than 10 hours of sleep.

Findings from the study will feature in the ABC1 television series, Life at 5, which has been made in conjunction with the Australian Government’s Longitudinal Study.

The two episodes of Life at 5, which follow on from the popular Life at 1 and Life at 3 productions, will go to air on February 15 and 22 at 8.30pm on ABC1.

To view the report visit FaHCSIA website