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Australian families with children are media-rich, valuing the internet and using multiple communications devices in the home, says research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).The Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007 report surveyed a representative sample of 751 family households with children aged between eight and 17. The exercise gauged media use in the home, including how young people divide their leisure time and how parents view their children’s use of media and communications technologies.

According to the results, parents are striking a comfortable balance in their children’s use of media.

‘It is natural for parents today to be concerned that their child may be vulnerable to media risks,’ said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘I believe this research gives the government a first-rate snapshot of Australian families with children aged 8 – 17, the group of households that is leading the charge into the new communications world and therefore the households most vulnerable to any potentially negative media influences.

‘As such, the study provides a sound empirical base for thinking about children and young people’s use of electronic media and communications and informing policy settings in regulating content across media platforms.’

The full report is available on ACMA’s website, however a selection of interesting results follows.

 

Most families with children aged eight to 17 have three or more televisions in their home and three or more mobile phones. Almost every family home has a computer (98 per cent) and DVD player (97 per cent).

A large nine-in-ten family homes with children have the internet, and 76 per cent of these homes have broadband compared to just seven per cent in 1995. More than three-quarters of family homes have a games console, said the report.

Almost all parents with children aged eight to 17 see the internet as beneficial for their children, mainly as providing learning or educational opportunities. Similarly, four-fifths of these parents see benefits in their child’s use of a mobile phone, particularly for safety and security.

Families say electronic media and communications activities take up around half of young people’s total discretionary time – a proportion that has not changed since 1995. Children themselves demonstrate a balanced attitude to the use of electronic media and communications. When given a preference, young people often prefer to do non-media activities and socialise with other people.

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