Technology changes generations

GENERATION one spent afternoons on school days on the farm, generation two with his mates, and generation three uses part of his afternoons becoming a PlayStation master.

Three generations of Lismore’s Virtue family revealed the changing nature of childhood on the Northern Rivers, as a new study provided information about being a kid in 21st century Australia.

The latest instalment of the Federal Government report, Growing Up in Australia, has just been released, showing the habits of five to six and nine to 10 year olds across a range of indicators.

The trends in the Growing Up in Australia report appear to be broadly in line with what is occurring on the Northern Rivers, as kids become more tech-savvy compared with their parents and grandparents.

More than 90 per cent of surveyed households with nine to 10 year olds had a computer.

Of those, 59 per cent used the computer for homework, while 46 per cent of kids used the computer to play DVDs or CDs.

A third of children used the computer once a week to play games on the internet, while 30 per cent used email.

But just one-in-10 children used social networking sites, with a similar number chatting online.

Certainly it is a different life for eight-year-old Jack Virtue compared with his grandfather Keith.

“The first thing I had to do (when I got home from school) was to get the cows in and milk them. That took a lot of time,” Keith said.

Keith’s son John, Jack’s dad, agrees it’s a different world for his son to the one he grew up in.

“The technology has been a fairly major change,” he said.

“But because we didn’t have iPods and things, we never missed them.”

And while children’s access to new technology has greatly increased, it has resulted in parents taking measures to control the impact of media on their children.

The report revealed 96 per cent of surveyed parents with nine to10-year-old children had rules about what television programs their kids watched. And three-quarters of parents had rules about the amount of time kids spend watching television.

Goonellabah mother Maria Fraser and her husband don’t let son Conor watch just anything on telly.

“We don’t let him watch a lot of what kids are watching today, much to his dismay,” she said.

“Anything he watches is usually with us.”

Watching too much television wasn’t a problem for Keith Virtue, because it hadn’t been invented when he was 10.

“There was no TV, of course. We listened to a lot of radio. Shows like Dad and Dave and Martin’s Corner,” he said.

While young Jack recently inher-ited a TV for his room, his Play-Station is in the family room.

As for mobile phones, the study shows the devices have some tract-ion among young children, with 10 per cent of nine to 10 year olds having a mobile phone for personal use.

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