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New report reveals that girls have the edge in new technologies

A new report, co-authored by a University of Hertfordshire academic, which will be launched this Thursday (22 January), has revealed that girls are more likely to have new technologies at home than boys and it is mothers rather than fathers who assist them.

The Learning in the Family report which looked at how families are involved in children’s learning, was funded by Becta, commissioned by Intuitive Media Research Services and co-authored by Robert Hart of Intuitive Media and Professor Karen Pine, at the University’s School of Psychology.

They conducted two online surveys with a sample of 4,606 children aged six to fourteen, going into more depth with a further 2,535 children and then interviewed twelve families.

The aim was to assess how parents engage with children learning new technology and how parents could better support their children’s learning.

The survey found that 94 per cent of the girls said that they used a computer or laptop compared with only 88 per cent of the boys. It also found that 50 per cent of children chose their mothers to help them to use new technologies, versus 22 per cent, which chose their fathers.

“What is clear from these results is that mothers are taking the lead,” said Professor Pine. “Overall, mothers are more likely to engage with their children using new technologies especially when it comes to formal learning or research. The mothers were also the most experienced and capable computer and Internet users.”

Another key finding was that 40% of children surveyed wanted to see an improvement in parental involvement and many of the parents interviewed said that they would like to learn more through online courses, through the television or through their local school or college.

Robert Hart, Research Director said, "It is clear from results that the Internet has gained a significant place in children's daily lives. Almost all of the children surveyed use the Internet at home with their parents. Their mothers are particularly engaged with their homework and formal learning and take an interest in their online safety. Fathers join in to a lesser extent but encourage children with the fun aspects and help them with their hobbies."

The report can be downloaded free from

Helene Murphy | alfa
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