Sport in decline as kids find new hobbies

It seems Aussie kids are increasingly keen to shimmy and shake or spar and strike, rather than play ball.

According to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the past decade children's participation in dancing has increased by 27 per cent, and in martial arts by 24 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities survey revealed that participation in netball declined by 8 per cent from 2003 to 2012, while participation in tennis fell by 10 per cent.

ABS National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics director Andrew Middleton said the survey, which had been conducted every three years, showed some interesting trends in activity for children aged between five and 14.

"Contributing to the increasing popularity of dancing was a rise in participation among children five to eight years," he said.

Oak Flats mother Jodie Vogel said her daughters, Tyla, 3, and Hallee, 4, have been dancing for 12 months at Danze Gallery in the southern suburb.

"Hallee really wanted to start dancing lessons," Ms Vogel said. "She didn't have much confidence before but since she's started, it has really boosted her confidence, which is fantastic.

"Tyla always wanted to join her big sister in class so now she's started too. They both love dressing up in their costumes, meeting up with their little friends and learning a bit of jazz and ballet once a week. It's a great activity for them."

Dancing was second in the top 10 organised sports for 2012, with swimming and diving remaining in the No 1 spot since 2003.

The survey showed that 25 per cent of five to eight-year-olds and 18 per cent of nine to 11-year-olds participated in swimming and diving in 2012.

Outdoor soccer came in third place for 2012, Australian Rules Football was fourth while football rounded out the top five.

The survey also looked at children's use of technology and it found that children were spending less time in front of the idiot box, though perhaps more time in front of the computer.

"Children are spending less time watching TV than they did a decade ago, with an average of 15 hours per week spent in front of the box in 2012, compared to 22 hours per week in 2003," Mr Middleton said.

"The proportion of children accessing the internet increased from 64 per cent in 2003 to 90 per cent in 2012."

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