For over 10 years we have visited you and your child and asked a lot of questions about how your child is going and what is happening in your lives. Together, all this information is very powerful in helping us understand how the experiences of children as they grow up relate to what happens later in their lives.
Throughout the world there are studies just like Growing Up in Australia, some of which started in the 1950's. Through these studies, researchers are learning how early life events relate to long-term health and wellbeing. These findings are extremely important in helping us understand how to assist people of all ages.
Like these studies, Growing Up in Australia hopes to continue to ask our study children questions as they grow up, become adults and have their own families.
You have probably noticed that as the children get older, we ask them to answer more and more questions themselves. This is because the study is focussed on learning about children born in Australia in the early 2000's.
Once the children in Growing Up in Australia are adults, we still plan to visit them and ask them questions about their lives, and we will be continuing to collect key information from you via a short interview. Even as study children grow into young adults and may no longer live at home, the information you provide about the contact and support you give each other through life is very important in helping researchers and policy makers understand family life today.
The information you provide to Growing Up in Australia gives the Australian Government and researchers important data on child and adolescent development, and contributes to social policy debate. It also helps in identifying opportunities to improve the lives of all Australian children and their families. Here are some of the recent findings from researchers using Growing Up in Australia data.
Stewart Vella, Christopher Magee and Dylan Cliff, University of Wollongong
This research looked at the relationship between children's wellbeing and a range of factors such as health behaviours and family health environment. The researchers found that most children in the study (85%) had positive physical, social, and psychological outcomes as reported by parents. However, lower levels of wellbeing were found in children exposed to second-hand smoke, and for those who did not participate in organised sports.
This research was published in August 2015 in the Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 167, Issue 2, pages 422-427.
Helene Shin, Valerie Braithwaite and Eliza Ahmed, Australian National University
This research looked at the bullying experiences of 12 and 13 year olds. It examined the children whose bullying experiences were restricted to traditional bullying domains, such as the schoolyard, and those children who had moved from traditional bullying domains into cyberbullying spaces. Sixty per cent of children had been involved in traditional bullying as the victim and/or offender, while 8 per cent of children had been involved in cyberbullying as the victim and/or offender. The majority of children (95%) involved in cyberbullying had also been involved in traditional bullying. Teens that lacked supportive friends and mixed with antisocial peers, such as those who broke school rules and were involved in illegal behaviours, were more likely to be involved in bullying and/or victimisation both traditionally and in cyberspace. Boys were more likely than girls to be involved in both types of bullying. The study concluded that the quality of children's social relationships with their peers and the culture in which those relationships develop, help to understand which children move from traditional bullying into cyberbullying.
This research was published in May 2015 on the Regulatory Institutions Network, Research Paper No.2015/75
Mark Allen and Stewart Vella, University of Wollongong
This study looked at parents' estimates of their child's sport participation and total screen time (electronic gaming and television viewing) at the ages of 4-5 years and 12-13 years. Not surprisingly, the results showed that a higher level of sport participation was related to a lower level of screen time. Boys spent more time participating in organised sport and viewing screens than girls. Researchers also found that children's time in organised sport and total screen time at age 12 is strongly related to demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors from age 4.
This research was published in February 2015 in the Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 2, pages 114-117.
Kirsten J Hancock, Francis Mitrou, Megan Shipley, David Lawrence and Stephen R Zubrick, University of Western Australia
This research looked at the mental health of parents and grandparents, and compared this to the social and emotional wellbeing of young children. It found that children were more likely to have mental health distress on average if their mother/father or grandmother/grandfather had a mental health problem. In addition, the findings suggested that grandparents' mental health has some direct impact on children, as well as indirect impact on children through the parents. According to this paper, "assessments of children's social and emotional wellbeing should take into account a full family history of mental health problems".
This research was published in November 2013, in BMC Psychiatry, Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 1-21.
Jennifer Baxter, Australian Institute of Family Studies
This research explored how sharing paid work and unpaid work (such as raising a family and managing the household) related to parents' views on how well parents support each other in raising children and looking after the household.
This research found that fathers spent more time than mothers in paid employment, but less time in childcare and domestic work. Fathers were overwhelmingly positive about the extent to which mothers were a resource or support, understood their needs, and were supportive of them in raising their children. In contrast, fathers were less positive about themselves being a resource or support to their partner. Mothers were more likely to rate fathers as more supportive and a better resource if they spent more time doing child care tasks and domestic work. The findings also showed that how well parents supported each other was seen more in terms of physical help than financial contributions.
This paper was presented in July 2013 at the 5th International Community, Work and Family Conference in Sydney.