Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kids cashed up and living the high life

CHILDREN are receiving as much as $50 a week in pocket money and are being paid even more to help with household chores.
A snapshot of the nation's students by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Year 12 students are receiving an average of $245 a week from a combination of paid work, pocket money, chores and gifts during their most crucial year of study.

Senior students, keen to keep up with the latest fashions and pay their mobile phone bills, are earning an average of $120 from part-time work, $25 for doing household chores and $50 in gifts.

"It's very expensive to be an adolescent in 2008," child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said.

"Think about how much it costs to go to the movies, how much clothes cost or downloading music off the Internet.

"The research says 10 to 12 hours a week doesn't interfere with their psychological wellbeing at all.

"In fact, it's only when they do more than 15 hours of part-time work a week that it becomes a problem."

Children in Year 4 or below receive $5 a week in pocket money. The figure climbs to $10 in Year 5, $15 in Year 8 and $20 in Year 9.

Although some students are raking in the money, 30 per cent have no income at all.

Social analyst David Chalke said the survey showed it had never been a better time to be a kid.

"The disposable income of that age group has increased by double the CPI over the past 10 years; they are the group that is getting the most out of the economic boom," he said.

"And they are much more liberated and less supervised to dispose of it because of the increased number of single parents house holds and families with both parents working."

Sydney student Nicola Michael, 16, doesn't receive pocket money but earns about $10 an hour babysitting each week.

The Census at School survey of 44,000 students also found that Year 4 children get an average 10 hours' sleep a night, whereas HSC students get eight; most NSW students live in a three- or four-bedroom home; and 23 per cent of NSW students speak a second language.

Pizza is by far the most popular take-away food, outranking hot chips, burgers and pies, and cereal is the most common breakfast.

Year 12 students spend the same amount of time on sport as they do sending text messages - five hours.

Eight hours are spent in front of the TV, five with family and 12 with friends.

Year 4 students spend an hour a week sending text messages, five hours on sport, five in front of the TV and three playing video games.

Parenting expert and author Janet Cater said that was too much screen time for young children, giving them eye strain and fuelling the obesity epidemic.

"Parents need to be able to say no to their kids and be able to set boundaries and limits," she said.

Homework takes two hours in Year 4 and six hours in Year 12. Ninety-two per cent of NSW students have internet access at home.

Netball is the sport most enjoyed by girls, followed by dancing, whereas boys go for football.

More girls than boys travel to school by car, and boys are more likely to ride their bike to school than girls.

Most students are taking shorter showers and turning the tap off while brushing their teeth to save water.


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