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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 14:10 GMT
Computer ownership 'on the rise'
Computer keyboard
For the first time, more than half of all households have a computer
For the first time, more than half of all households in Britain have a home computer, according to new figures showing a steady growth in consumerism.

But lone parent families are much less likely to have access to what are now commonplace consumer items, the Office for National Statistics says.

Thousands of people were questioned for Living in Britain, a report on the 2002 General Household Survey.

The study also looked at contraception, smoking, drinking and hearing problems.

Internet access

Its compilers found there has been a steady increase in people's ownership of consumer goods since the 1970s.

For the first time, more than half of all households had a home computer, with the proportion jumping from 34 to 54% in the four years from 1998 to 2002.

But the survey showed children of single parent families were significantly less likely to have access to home computers and the internet.

Just over half the children in lone parent families were likely to have a computer, compared to eight out of 10 in two-parent households.

Only 36% of children in single parent households had internet access - with almost double that number able to surf the net in two-parent homes.

Almost a third of the households questioned in 2002 had a DVD player and only one in a hundred were without a television or telephone.

Since the 1970s, the proportion of households with access to a car or van has increased from just over half to about 70%, a figure which has remained steady since the mid-1990s.

About a fifth of households have two cars or vans but only one in 20 has three or more vehicles.

Hearing aid

Lone parent families were again less likely to have their own transport.

The survey also found about a fifth of all men reported having hearing problems, compared to only 13% of women.

More than half of men aged 75 and over said they had trouble hearing and about a quarter wear a hearing aid.

The proportion of people wearing a hearing aid in the population in general has doubled between 1979 and 2002, from 2% to 4%.

The Office for National Statistics questioned people aged 16 and over from more than 8,500 households to gather a picture of households, families and individuals living in Britain for the General Household Survey 2002/3.

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