A new book says that kids these days spend twice as much time in front of a TV or computer screen as in the classroom.
The book on how big business targets young consumers aggressively through new media suggests that children are a captive audience for sophisticated and energetic marketing techniques, as they spend so much of their day online or in front of the television.
Consumer Kids by Ed Mayo, head of Consumer Focus, formerly the National Consumer Council, and Agnes Nairn, an academic, says that Brit kids on average spend five hours and 18 minutes watching TV, playing computer games or surfing websites each day.
The total of 2,000 hours a year compares with 900 hours in class, and 1,270 hours with their parents. The book also says that relentless marketing to kids through websites and other media is a cause of concern because it is an intrusion into their privacy, and is destroying family life.
The authors write that while parents seem to be waking up to the threat of sexual predators online, they have no concept of how business grooms their children for profit. The book also reveals that children on average spend two hours and 36 minutes watching TV each day, one hour and 18 minutes on the internet, and one hour and 24 minutes on a games console.
“The screen can no longer be classed as an electronic babysitter that keeps children occupied. It is a whole electronic world in which they are immersed and which is underpinned firmly and securely by a profit motive. The conventional paradigm of childhood as a stage that evolves around family and schools has had to change.
It's the commercial world that dominates the time of today's children,” Times Online quoted the book as saying. It further reveals that kids’ bedrooms these days contain more gadgets than an entire family would have had a generation ago.
About 90 per cent of teenagers have a television in their bedroom, as do 60 per cent of five to six-year-olds. What is worth noticing is that the trend is not driven by income, as 98 per cent of teenagers from deprived backgrounds having their own TV as compared to 48 per cent from more affluent families.
The book even reveals that two thirds of five- to six-year-old kids watch TV before school each day, and a similar proportion watch it before bedtime. Over a third are said to have personal computers or laptops, and two thirds have a games console. About 25 per cent have access to the Internet in their bedroom.