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Last Updated: Tuesday May 23 2006 06:57 GMT

Kids ditch books in favour of net

Boy surfs net

Surfing the net is taking over from more traditional after-school activities, according to a survey of more than 400,000 children.

Half of the kids said they had used a computer - for browsing the web or playing games - the night before they were quizzed for the survey.

But, despite the success of Harry Potter and other book characters, reading is becoming less popular.

There has been a 20% drop in some girls' reading habits since the 1990s.

Around 15 years ago, 45% of 12 to 13-year-old girls regularly picked up a book, but this plummeted to 20% in the latest survey.

It also showed that doing sport after school is more popular with younger lads, with 60% of 10 and 11-year-old boys into the activity, compared to just 25% of 12 to 15-year-old girls.

But some things don't turn around too much.

The survey showed little change in the amount of kids playing a musical instrument, seeing friends and watching TV.