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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 23:21 GMT 00:21 UK
Children's hobbies cost millions
Children swimming
Swimming lessons cost 132 a year
Parents spend 795m every year on their children's hobbies, new research suggests.

Girls' hobbies cost an average of 472.65 each every year compared with 418.35 for boys.

What boys want
Football - 65%
Swimming - 50.9%
Cycling - 33.5%
Skating or skateboarding - 19.2%
Art - 17.1%

Children aged between five and 16 spend an average of six-and-a-half hours every week on their hobbies, the Abbey National survey indicates.

Almost one out of every four are regularly involved in at least five hobbies, it suggests.

And 43% stick with a hobby for more than two years.

Ballet is one of the most expensive, pastime for girls, with lessons, new slippers and tutus setting parents back around 200 a year.

Swimming lessons cost an average of 94, while drama lessons add up to 80 a year and singing ones cost 51.

One the most expensive hobbies for boys is football, with new tops and boots costing 149 a year, while swimming costs 98 and cycling sets parents back 69.

The most expensive hobby for kids is motor-cross, which will cost parents around 382 a year.

It is followed by skiing at 352 and horse riding, which costs about 341 a year.

And the hobbies not only cost money, but time.

What girls want
Swimming - 49.1%
Singing - 29.6%
Ballet - 27.5%
Art - 24.6%
Drama - 20.1%

One out of six parents spend between two and three hours every week ferrying their offspring to various activities .

Just one out of every six of the 659 parents questioned said they had help from grandparents.

Almost one out of every 10 parents also admitted to spending more than seven hours a week cheering on their children and keeping their kits clean.

Janet Connor, of Abbey National, said the findings fly directly in the face of criticisms that today's children are a generation of computer-obsessed couch potatoes.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sue Lilttlemore
"Singing comes out as one of the most popular hobbies"
See also:

08 Aug 02 | UK
29 Jul 02 | dot life
31 Aug 01 | Education
25 Jul 00 | Education
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