Beer up, cigs down… Family time shrinks… Elusive happiness… Night light…

SmartCompany /

Drinking more, smoking less

About 40% of Australians drink weekly and 9% of Australians drink every day, according to a study by Australian Health & Welfare. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that our rate of smoking is low compared to other countries. Only 17% of Australian smoke tobacco daily, down from 24% in 1991.

Illicit drug use has fallen, too. The report found that nearly 40% of Australians over 14 had used an illicit drug in their lifetime, with marijuana the most common. Almost 10% had used methamphetamine at least once and 3% had used it in the past 12 months.

The largest decrease has been in marijuana use, down from 18% in 1998 to just over 11% in 2004, the report showed.

Family time shrinks in the digital age

Two out of five Australian parents agree that family time has been negatively affected by new technologies, according to research conducted nationally by Woolcotts Research for AAPT.

This figure rises as the children grow up, with nearly 50% of parents of 16–20 year olds citing technology as having a negative impact on family time.

A major concern of parents was how the use of communications technology was taking away from traditional face-to-face social interaction. The research found that 16–20 year olds spend an average of 3.2 hours a day using technology compared to just two hours a day on face-to-face communications. Almost half of parents believe this is not enough time.

David Watson, General Manager – Mass, Australia, AAPT says a generational shift is very pronounced in internet usage trends of 16–34 year olds and those aged 55-plus.

“Fifty-four percent of 16–34 year olds download and listen to music on the internet every week, compared to just 10% of those aged over 55. And when it comes to downloading and watching movies on the internet, 16–34 year olds spend 2.6 hours on average each week, while those aged 55-plus don’t access movies at all.”

Do we really want to aim for happiness?

As economists and social commentators increasingly ask whether we should be pursuing happiness as well as or instead of GDP growth, Darrin M McMahon in the libertarian CATO Institute magazine CATO Unbound asks: Is our focus on happiness in contemporary culture taking us closer to our coveted end? Or does our self-conscious striving and frenetic pursuit signal something else?

Light breezes

The Dutch have found a new use for windmill technology, according to Made of stainless steel, wood, and sail fabric, the LIGHT WIND converts wind power to light with a two-metre propeller. The wind energy is stored and can be used to power the light all night long.


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