'Aussie kids swapping sport for screens'

Sydney, June 7 (IANS) Children who spend long periods on the Internet are far less likely to participate in sports, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released Friday.

Australian children who spend more than 20 hours a week on screen-based activities had the biggest drop in sports participation, said ABS Assistant Director of Recreation Statistics Paul Pamment, reports Xinhua.

"In contrast, 70 percent of kids who spend 3-4 hours per week accessing the Internet at home took part in at least one organized sport outside of school hours in the 12 month period prior to survey," he added.

A similar pattern was found with children spending time in front of other screens, watching movies or television.

While 72 percent of kids who spent 3-4 hours watching TV every week participated in at least one organised sport outside of school, the percentage shrunk to 64 percent for children sitting for 20 hours or more in front of the box.

Obesity remains a pressing concern in the minds of Australian parents.

26 percent of Australian children aged 5 to 17 were found to be either overweight or obese in the 2011-12 ABS Australian Health Survey -- a figure that continues to rise as kids swap getting out and about for tuning in to the screen.

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