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Parents More Active in Raising Their Children; Children Get Less Television Time


Parents are taking a more active role in the lives of their children than they did 10 years ago, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. For example, in 2004, 47 percent of teenagers had restrictions on what they watched on television, when they watched, and for how long, up from 40 percent in 1994 (Table 11).

A Child’s Day: 2004 examines the well-being of children younger than 18 and provides an updated look into how they spend their days. This series of 30 tables published by the U.S. Census Bureau is based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and addresses children’s living arrangements, family characteristics, time spent in child care, academic experience, extracurricular activities and more.

According to this latest look into the lives of children, about 68 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds had limits on their television viewing, an increase from 54 percent in 1994. More children 6 to 11 found they, too, were living with restrictions on television: 71 percent in 2004 compared with 60 percent 10 years earlier.

In 2004, 53 percent of children younger than 6 ate breakfast with their parents every day (Table 7). That compared with only 22 percent of teenagers who ate breakfast with their parents each morning. Those percentages increased at the dinner table, where 78 percent of children younger than 6 ate dinner nightly with their parents, compared with 57 percent of teenagers.

According to the current data, parents continued to exert a positive influence on their children in other ways. Seventy-four percent of kids younger than 6 were praised by their mother or father three or more times a day (Table 6). The same was true for 54 percent of children 6 to 11 and 40 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds.

Children 1 to 2 were read to an average of 7.8 times in the previous week of the survey (Table 9), while children 3 to 5 were read to an average of 6.8 times in the previous week.

Other highlights:

* About half of all children 1 to 5 are read to seven or more times a week; 53 percent for 1- to 2-year-olds, and 51 percent for 3- to 5-year olds.
* The percentage of children participating in lessons, such as music, dance, language, computers, or religion, went up for 6- to 11-year olds, from 24 percent in 1994 to 33 percent in 2004 (Table 13).
* From 1994 to 2004, the percentage of children who changed schools went down for 6- to 11-year-olds, from 30 percent to 26 percent. For 12- to 17-year-olds, the percentage of children who changed schools dropped from 52 percent to 42 percent (Table 17).
* From 1994 to 2004, the number of children 12 to 17 who repeated a grade declined from 16 percent to 11 percent. For children 6 to 11, the rate remained the same at 7 percent.

SIPP produces national-level estimates for the U.S. resident population and subgroups, and allows for the observation of trends over time, particularly of selected characteristics, such as income, eligibility for and participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior, and other associated events.


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