Kids online an hour-and-a-half a day

Children are spending an increasing amount of time on the web, with over a third claiming they couldn't live without their computer, according to a new survey.

Kids spend an hour-and-a-half online each day, and another four hours in front of the TV or playing a games console.

The stats, from a survey of 1,800 British children by ChildWise research group, suggests the increasing importance of technology in children's lives.

Indeed, some 35 per cent of the children surveyed said they couldn't live without their computer.

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Over the last year, the amount of children with internet access in their own room has jumped from 23 per cent to 37 per cent, while 55 per cent have their own computer. Nearly eight out of 10 tend to access the internet from home, leaving kids without a home setup at a disadvantage - a divide the government is trying to overcome with a new 300 million Home Access programme.

Without parents or teachers looking over their shoulders, kids are spending their online time having fun. The last time they used the internet, the survey's respondents were playing games (34 per cent), instant messaging (32 per cent), and visiting social networking sites (31 per cent). Just nine per cent were doing schoolwork.

As kids continue to use such technologies, their level of reading books is falling off. "The next few years will see a further change in the way in which this generation respond to the written word," ChildWise said in a statement. "Wider availability of eBooks may increase the attraction, but games consoles and mobile phones are also likely to play a role."

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"In the meantime, children are caught in a communications trap their online abilities often exceed those of their parents' generation, but this is not necessarily recognised or valued," the report argued. "Their conventional reading and writing skills are frequently criticised, and their limited experience and expertise in this area makes it harder for them to compete in an adult-dominated world."

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