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August 8, 2013

Tablets: the electronic babysitter

Ofcom report shows tablets have become the electronic equivalent of nannies.

By Claire Vanner

British parents are using tablet devices to keep their children occupied, accoding to research from Ofcom.

Parents used to sit children down in front of the TV to occupy them when mums and dads needed some down time.

But now 91% of parents with a tablet say their children use it, or have one of their own, with three quarters agreeing that their tablet is a useful tool for entertaining and educating their children. Two in five reported that their children used a tablet daily, with 17% of kids using it more than twice a day.

The report, which looked into how we communicate, found that technology is taking over in many homes, with children as young as five using tablets to watch films, play games or do their homework.

Dr Linda Blair told the Daily Mail that the physical effects of too much screen time can be detrimental to sleeping habits.

"The light that is emitted from our electronic devices affects the melatonin levels in our body and makes us much more alert and wakeful than we want to be and is one of the main contributions to insomnia now," she said.

"I get a huge number of kids who are unable to concentrate or can’t get to sleep at night and one of the key things we work on is reducing screen time."

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Among children, tablet computers are largely used for entertainment purposes. Playing games is most popular (71%), followed by watching short video clips (44%), internet browsing (40%) and watching TV programmes/films (37%). Around one in three parents with a tablet (28%) say that their child uses it for school or college work.

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