January 28, 2001

The majority of 3- to- 17-year-olds have family television rules, one-half of school-age children (6-to-17 years old) participate in extracurricular activities and just over half of those under 12 have been in nonfamily child care, according to a report released today by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

"This is the first time the Census Bureau has looked at how kids are spending their days," said Jason Fields, one of the authors of A Child's Day: Home, School and Play, which is based on 1994 data. "Decisions that families make about their children's daily activities are important, since many will affect their children's success over time."

(The data should not be confused with Census 2000 results, which will be released over the next three years.)

According to the report, 85 percent of 6- to- 11-year-olds have rules about the types of television programs they watch at home, 42 percent of children 12-to-17 years old participate in sports activities, 19 percent are enrolled in after-school lessons, and 65 percent of children ages 3 to 5 are currently in or have been in organized child care.


-- Children 6-to-11 years old are subject to more television rules than older children. While 60 percent of them have rules about the types of programs, numbers of hours and time of day they can watch, only 40 percent of children ages 12 to 17 have all three types of these rules.

-- About 75 percent of 12- to- 17-year-old children who participated in an extracurricular activity are on track academically (that is, in the grade at school expected for their age), compared with 60 percent of children in this age group who did not participate in such activities.

-- About 32 percent of children 3-to-5 years old started some type of non-parental child care by the time they were 3 months old, and nearly half (47 percent) had been in some type of regular child-care arrangement by their first birthday. On average, children younger than 3 years old spent 30 hours per week in their first child-care arrangement.

-- Nearly half of children 3-to-5 years old (47 percent) were read to seven or more times per week. About 9 percent of children in this age group were not read to at all in the week prior to the survey.

Data are from interviews conducted in late 1994 with parents in a sample of households selected in 1992 and 1993 as part of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling errors.

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