International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development Conference
July 5, 2006
Social scientists have long recognised that experiences in early life have significant impacts on children's performance in school and development of life skills. While many countries have conducted longitudinal child development studies, only one such study in Québec has collected time use information from infants. Time use studies in Italy and Bulgaria have collected diaries from children aged less than five. This paper reviews experiences collecting time use information for young children, then discusses the development and testing of diaries for the longitudinal study 'Growing Up in Australia'. This study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, follows samples of around 5000 infants and 5000 four-year-olds for at least six years. As with previous studies, a parent of the sampled children will complete the diaries. To minimise respondent burden, the diaries only requires carers to raw lines across time slots to indicate occurrence of precoded activities. Unlike previous studies of young children, however, this diary aims to collect information on exposure to sunlight and exposure to social situations where infants learn both language and social skills. The diaries also collect information on the degree to which young children were physically active, interaction with pets, and which people provided care at which times of the day. To capture such details, the diaries cover 22-26 primary activities, and 13 categories of context information, including where the child was, who else was present, and whether parents paid for the child to undertake an activity.