Source: The Australian, Tuesday October 31, 1995, p.3


Television, music top list of
what we do with spare time

By social affairs writer MICHELLE GUNN 
 
   YOUNG people, single par- 
ents and couples without 
children spend as much or more 
time watching television and 
listening to music each week as 
they do earning a living, 
according to the first national 
study on how Australian families 
spend their time. 
 
   Teenagers also spend just as 
much time socialising and being 
entertained each week as they do 
on school and homework or 
university and study. 
 
   But when it comes to maxi- 
mising "free time" Australia's 
youth are well and truly outdone 
by. their elders. 
 
   Retirees, having had their fair 
share of work and family 
commitments, spend more time 
on leisure, entertainment and 
social life than any other group 
in the country, averaging 55 
hours a week. 
 
   Focus on Families: Family 
Life is the sixth and final 
publication of a series 
undertaken by the ABS as a 
contribution to International 
Year of the Family. 
 
   It examines how members of 
Australian families spend their 
time and with whom. 
 
   The study found that time 
spent on sleep, meals and 
personal hygiene accounts for 
just under half of each person's 
week. 
 
   Depending on work and family 
commitments, between a fifth 
and a third of our time is spent 
on social life, entertainment and 
leisure activities. 
 
   Not surprisingly, parents with 
two to four-year-old children 
have less free time than anyone, 
with about 32 hours a week. This 
compares with 45 hours for 
young people without children. 
 
   Focus on Families also con- 
tains the first examination of the 
amount of time people spend 
with their families. 
 
It reveals the alarming fact 
that older men who live by 
themselves spend 85 per cent 
of their time or 142 hours a 
week alone. 
 
   These men experience greater 
social isolation than older 
women, who are more likely to 
have close relatives outside the 
household and who are better at 
maintaining their friends as they 
get older. 
 
   This is borne out by the fact 
that women over 60 who live 
alone spend an average of 16 
hours a week with family mem- 
bers, whereas the men spend just 
five. 
 
   Also, unlike women, men 
spend more time alone as they 
grow older, with those aged 75 
and over spending 154 hours a 
week or 91 per cent of the week 
by themselves. 
 
These trends were echoed in 
younger age brackets with 
women aged 25-59 who live 
alone spending 62 hours a 
week with family and friends 
compared with 54 hours for 
men. 
 
   Young single people living 
away from the family home 
spend more than twice as much 
time alone (30 hours a week) as 
those living in families (11 
hours). 
 
   But these 15 to 24-year-olds 
still spend about six hours a 
week on social and leisure 
activities with family members. 
 
   Childless couples spend 77 per 
cent of their time with family, 
most of it with their partner 
alone. 
 
   Those with children averaged 
78 per cent of their week with 
family, but less than 10 per cent 
of this was spent alone with their 
partner.


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