No More Playtime: Children Spend Their Free Time Staring at a
on: October 29, 2009, 4:57 am
A new generation hooked on digital content is
shunning traditional playtime in favour of watching TV and surfing
the internet, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the independent comparison and
switching service. The report also reveals a high proportion of
children using the internet and watching TV unsupervised in their
bedrooms after being sent to bed, while an alarming number of
parents have yet to set up the necessary control measures to protect
them from viewing unsuitable content.
In a typical day, outside of school hours children
spend an average of 1.4 hours online and 1.6 hours watching television.
Not only does this mean that they are spending 3 hours a day staring
at a screen, but it suggests that surfing the internet is set
to take over from watching TV as the most popular children's recreational
But where does this leave old fashioned playtime,
and are we creating a new generation of internet addicts? Children
today have a plethora of digital distractions whether they are
in the form of games consoles such as the Wii, or social networking
sites such as Bebo, with traditional playtime all but lost. Worryingly,
29% of children now have a computer in their bedroom and almost
two thirds (63%) of these use it before going to sleep. Similarly,
nearly half (49%) have a TV in their room and 64% regularly watch
this in bed.
Despite nearly a third (30%) of parents worrying
about information or images that they have found their child looking
at on a website or on TV, just 41% of parents always supervise
their children using the internet and 11% never do. Over half
of parents (55%) leave it up to their children to decide which
websites to visit, based on either guidelines they have set or
Taking the issue of parental control extremely
seriously, all major broadband companies offer
filtering facilities in their broadband packages, usually for free,
enabling parents to have more control over the information and
images viewed by their children. Yet over a third of parents (34%)
have not set up any filters or blocks on their home internet:
22% believe that it's too time consuming, and a further 21% simply
haven't got round to setting it up. A third of parents (32%) are
unaware of the parental control features available with their
Jason Glynn, communications expert at uSwitch.com,
says: "In an age where engaging content such as on-demand TV
will only increase the amount of hours our children spend online,
we urge parents to contact their internet providers to see what
controls are available to them. Speed and price should take second
place to safety - but with most broadband services including filtering
software for free, there really is no excuse not to take action.
"We fully support the measures being laid out
by companies to help families tackle this issue, such as TalkTalk's
plans to classify websites with U, PG, 14 and 18 certificates.
Our research shows that 8 out of 10 parents would back such a
Protect your family with broadband filters:
- AOL enables customers to set up parental controls for free.
Controls can offer a different level of security for each
member of the family, allowing children more freedom to roam
the internet as they grow older.
- BT has teamed up with McAfee® to offer all BT Total Broadband
Option 2, 3, or Broadband Anywhere customers BT NetProtect
Plus at no extra cost.
- Orange has teamed up with McAfee to offer McAfee Privacy
Service with parental controls, free to all Orange Broadband
- O2 offers security software from McAfee at no extra cost,
which along with parental control settings includes anti virus
protection and spam filters.
- Sky Parental Alert, costing £3.50 a month or £35 a year,
monitors children's Instant Messaging (IM) or chat room conversations
for grooming patterns and alerts you via email or text message
when those patterns are detected.
- Talk Talk offers Magic Desktop, available for free in an
exclusive offer for TalkTalk customers. The service allows
parents to introduce young children to a computer in a child-friendly
environment and encourages families to use the internet safely.
- Tiscali's Crisp technology costs £3.50 per month. It scans
instant messages for grooming behaviour and complements existing
parental controls and filters for internet chat and social
networking sites. Parents are alerted to problem conversations.
- Virgin Media broadband packages come with free PCguard Total
internet security, including firewall, pop-up blocker and
parental control, updated regularly.
more information please contact:
Jo Ganly 0207 802 2915 / firstname.lastname@example.org
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison
and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas,
electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband,
digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and