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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 08:17 GMT
Families row over home PC access
Teenager using a computer
Computers are becoming part of the family
The humble home computer is becoming so much part of family life it is causing arguments over who gets to use it, according to a Mori survey.

Families see it as a crucial way to stay in touch, but 90% of them bicker over who gets to use it and when.

A large proportion (43%) used it for gaming, and over a third liked the idea of storing films and music on it.

The survey also showed that people are warming to the idea that the computer can also be an entertainment hub.

The survey, which was carried out for Packard Bell, echoes wider research which suggests that the increasing prominence of the computer in the home is influencing family behaviour itself.

Dr Magdalena Bober, who works with Dr Sonia Livingstone on the major London School of Economic project looking at parents and young people's use of technology, told the BBC News website that often younger family members get priority use over the machines.

Sibling rivalry

"This survey shows what many people will be familiar with computers in their home, and parents are starting to set up new rules about who can go on the computer when and for how long," she said.

Over a third of nine to 19-year-olds have more than one computer at home
Dr Magdalena Bober, LSE
"In our research on families and the internet, we found that priority is most often given to older siblings who have urgent homework to finish."

The Mori survey found that 22% of 15 to 24-year-olds bicker with other family members over who gets computer time.

In their survey of UK children and their parents, the LSE team found that 43% of parents of nine to 17-year-olds have set up rules for how much time their child can spend on the net.

The majority, 90%, of young people interviewed for Dr Bober's research use the net for homework. About 72% of them use it for e-mail and 70% play games on their computers.

"Many families also resort to buying additional computers or laptops to solve this problem. Over a third of nine to 19-year-olds have more than one computer at home," said Dr Bober.

The Mori survey also revealed that 62% of computer-using over 55s and 20% of 45 to 54-year-olds used e-mail to keep in touch with children who had left the roost.

But only 19% of 15 to 24-year-olds bothered to keep in touch with their parents.

According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, 35% of people in the UK access the internet from home via a dial-up connection, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

About 29% access the net on unmetered dial-up and 31% have an always-on, broadband connection.

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