Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 13-09-2011

Australian children are spending nearly half of their spare time watching TV, on the internet or playing video games, according to a new survey.

Cartoon Network’s annual New Generations 2011 Poll - which surveyed 1,600 children aged four to 14, and 1,600 adults - found that about 2.4 hours of their day is spent watching TV, a figure largely unchanged from last year.

TV is their leading source of information about movies, food products, games and toys, well ahead of the internet, print media and radio.

Collectively, with 3.1 million children in the target age group, they have more than A$1.5 billion a year to spend and have a significant influence on their parents' spending patterns, making them a group that warrants careful attention from marketers.

Cartoon Network's senior manager of strategic research, Asia Pacific, Peter Hammer, said the disposable income available to children meant "not only that they have a big influence over family spending but they are powerful consumers".

He said the figures reflected the changing nature of households as newer technologies infiltrate the average home.

“Aussie kids are tech savvy and show strong media awareness,” he said.

“In 2011, it is all about 'screentime'... tablet ownership has shot up 181% in one year and mobile use, whether owned or borrowed, is up 77%.

“And in technological tradition, TV remains the ultimate king of the screen.”