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Research shows how Kiwi kids use the media

Media Release

Embargo: 6pm, 6 May 2008

Research shows how Kiwi kids use the media

New research shows that New Zealand children are savvy media users and that while there has been an explosive growth of media devices in homes in the past few years, television remains the principal form of entertainment.

The research, Seen and Heard, was carried out by Colmar Brunton for the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA). It involved interviewing more than 600 children aged between six and 13 and their primary caregivers. The focus of the research was how New Zealand children use and respond to media, including television, radio, the internet, and cell phones.

Ninety nine percent of children watch TV programmes, 84% play computer or video games, 62% use the internet and 42% use a cellphone.

When it comes to television, both parents and children have a high awareness of classifications and warnings on programmes and use these as a guide to whether a programme will be suitable for children.

However, parents’ awareness of the 8.30pm ‘watershed’ is much lower and has fallen in the past six years. Less than half of parents know that 8.30pm is the time when TV programmes that are not suitable for children start to screen.

BSA Chief Executive Dominic Sheehan said “This is significant because the research also shows that children are frequently watching television after 8.30pm, when programmes not suitable for children are screened.”

The research updates information collected for a 2001 study by the BSA, The Younger Audience, and takes into account the significant changes that have taken place in how children use traditional and new media.

“Not surprisingly, the research reveals that children are interacting with new media, like cell phones, MP3 players and the internet, in high numbers. However, there are marked inequalities in access to new media, with Pacific and Maori children, in particular, falling behind Asian and Pakeha children.

Eighty-nine percent of Asian children and 77 percent of Pakeha children use a computer at home with access to the internet compared with just 53 per cent of Maori children and 38 per cent of Pacific children.

The latest study also indicates that the ‘bedroom television culture’ identified in the 2001 study has grown.

“Twenty-seven per cent of children now have a television in their bedroom compared with 18 per cent in 2001. And now a significant number of children also play computer or video games and use their cellphones while in their bedrooms.”

Dominic Sheehan said children were not the passive viewers that some complainants made them out to be. They were clear about what media content was inappropriate or upset them and had opinions about it.

“As in 2001 their concerns about TV centre on violence, sexual content and bad language. With new media they tend to be concerned about sexual content on the internet and bullying via cell phones.

“Some of the children we interviewed had experienced these things personally but the research suggests these worries might also be influenced by their parents’ concerns.”

Most pleasing in the report, perhaps, was the existence of rules and protections that families had for viewing and media use. Parents tended to put rules on the use of most media, especially for television and the internet.

“More than half the children surveyed said they mainly used the internet while they were alone. It is important then that children are fully equipped in how to keep themselves safe while online.

“Media literacy, the ability to access and understand media in order to use it effectively, is becoming increasingly important. New media especially brings new challenges for both children and their parents. It is clear from the report that Kiwi children need continuing information and support so that their media experiences can be safe and productive ones.”


ends

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