Young Australians spending more time on the internet than watching TV

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
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Even before COVID-19, Young Australians were spending more time on the internet at home than watching TV or playing/talking to friends

New research from Roy Morgan reveals Young Australians aged 6-13 spend an average of 10 hours a week on the internet at home, up 0.3hrs from two years ago.

Kids are spending more time on the internet at home than watching TV (9.4 hours) or playing with/talking to friends (9.7 hours) – both of which have declined in popularity since 2017.

Young Australians: Time Spent on Activities in hours
Young Australians - Time Spent on Activities

Source: Roy Morgan Young Australian Survey Jan–Dec 2017, n= 2,563, Jan–Dec 2019, n=2,230. Base: Young Australians aged 6-13 years old.

When the time Young Australians spend on the internet at school (3 hours) and elsewhere (1.2 hours) is taken into account they spend an average of 14.2 hours on the internet in total in an average week. That’s a non-lockdown average week.

Also notable is that kids are spending more time playing computer/electronic games, 5.1 hours (up 0.2hrs since 2017) than they spend playing sport, 4.5 hours (down 0.4hrs).

Other activities Australian kids spend time on during the week include an average of 2.7 hours of homework, 2 hours listening to the radio and 1.6 hours watching videos/DVDs.

Younger children favour TV, older ones the internet, but friends are important to both

Analysing activities by age groups shows watching TV is the top activity for 6-9 year olds ahead of playing with or talking to friends, using the internet at home, playing sport, and playing computer/electronic games.

For older kids, aged 10-13, using the internet at home is easily the number one activity, ahead of playing with/talking to friends, watching TV, playing computer/electronic games, and playing sport.

With detailed research into the lives of 2,500 young Australians each year, Roy Morgan’s Young Australian Survey has been measuring the changing activities, tastes and opinions of Aussie kids for many years, an invaluable resource for both retailers and parents keen to ensure they know what younger children and teens want.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, says even before COVID-19 forced Australians to spend extra time indoors in mid-March, the way Aussie kids spent their time was changing rapidly:

“The way children interact with media and each other is changing as the internet takes an increasingly central role. Generation Alpha – those born from 2006 onwards – are true ‘digital natives’, with smartphones and frictionless digital options available to them as soon as they learn to walk and begin to explore the world.

“Given this digital immersion, it’s no surprise to see the internet playing an increasing role in the way these kids spend their time – something which increases as they head towards secondary school. Those aged 10-13 spend an average of 19 hours on the internet in an average week, compared to only 9 hours for children aged 6-9. Even before COVID-19, kids aged 10-13 spent around twice as much time using the internet in an average week than they do watching TV.

“Perhaps more concerning in terms of healthy lifestyles as we emerge from lockdown is that in the last few years the time spent playing computer/electronic games by 10-13 year olds has overtaken the time spent playing sport.”