New Zealand children could be growing up as a generation
who learn from watching TV or DVDs rather than being read to, the
most up-to-date study of the youngsters and their families
The Growing Up in New
Zealand is a study of nearly 7000 children and their
families. About 80 percent of the children studied watched TV or
DVDs daily at age two for an average of 90 minutes a day, while one
in seven had already used a laptop or a childrens' computer system.
66 percent had books read to them.
The study also revealed information such as the most common
favourite first food - bananas - and word - mum, mummy or mama.
Jada MacFie, who is part of the project with her son Kanoa, said
she worried about how technology use could affect his
"He's always been exposed to technology and television and
radio," Mrs MacFie said.
"We actually have to purposefully correct that for him; it's not
natural for him to want to go out and roll and play in the leaves
when he could sit there and build a robot.
"If he can sit there and build a robot, or get on a screen and
fight the robots, then that's his first choice."
Mrs MacFie said TV was often an easy choice for busy
"My friends and I joke about this now that that's our other
babysitter. When you get home you've got stuff to do, so you come
in the door, you park them in front of Disney Jnr or Nick Jnr and
say 'here you go, enjoy, here's your snack' and we're away, and
then chuck on the washing, do the dishes, work out what's for
dinner, get their laundry sorted, sort out the next day," she
Kanoa attends a Maori immersion school which uses "ipapa" to
refer to iPad (ipapa), because they are so commonly used.
The Growing Up New Zealand study has also revealed how diverse
the country's children are, with 25 percent of the children studied
identified as Maori, 20 percent as Pacific, and one in six as
Asian. Multiple ethnicities are also common.
The study has also shown that understanding two or more
languages is now common for more than 40 percent of New Zealand's
Natasha Cook said that was certainly the case with her daughter,
"She's got a Samoan teacher... who teaches her Samoan words, so
she comes home and she knows how to speak a few Samoan words and
Samoan songs," Ms Cook said.
"Even TV as well, you've got Dora the Explorer, so there's
Spanish there, and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan (a children's television show)
and that's Chinese, so she picks up on all of that as well."
The study found most children were
described as being in very good or excellent health, and that 92
percent were fully immunised by age two.
However, one of the study's lead authors, Dr Polly Atatoa Carr,
said there were concerns around their general health and
"They're seeing primary health care for lots of infectious
issues. They're getting ear infections, tummy bugs and high rates
of chest infections," Dr Atatoa Carr said.
"Also, we're seeing quite high rates of injuries and accidents,
and there's room for improvement in the safety in our houses. I
think all of these areas connect up to each other, and certainly
give us food for thought."
Ten percent of the children studied had been told by a doctor
that they had an allergy of some kind, with egg and dairy being the
Just under one third of the children had had a significant
accident requiring medical help up until age two, and one fifth of
children had had at least one hospital stay.
Working smoke alarams were present in only 79 percent of
children's homes, and 38 percent were living in a house without a
fully fenced off driveway, the study showed.
The Growing Up in New
Zealand longitudinal study is designed to continue until
the children reach the age of 21. It is based at the University of
Auckland's Centre for Longitudinal Research and involves nearly
7000 youngsters and their families.