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Children are spending more time online than ever before, Ofcom claims

A study from Ofcom has found that under-fives are spending more than four hours a day in front of a screen, and that, overall, children are spending more time online than watching television.
The report found that three- and four-year-olds are spending an average of eight hours and 18 minutes per week online - an hour and a half more than just one year ago – and that a third of pre-school aged children own their own media device.
The amount of screen-time increased to four hours and 11 minutes when watching television and playing video games were included.
Melanie Pilcher, policy and standards manager at the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said that the report was a timely reminder of the rate at which digital media, and the associated access to online content, has grown in such a short space of time.
“Playing on a computer or tablet can provide children with a wealth of learning opportunities, there are lots of good websites that have been created specifically for pre-school children. However, it is important that parents and early years practitioners join in and discover with the child,” Melanie said.
“It is the quality rather than the quantity of children’s screen time that we should be most concerned with. Interactive activities – whether a Skype conversation with Grandma, an art app specifically for pre-schoolers, or an age-appropriate computer game played as a family – are likely to help children learn, connect and create in a way that passive TV-viewing or repetitive gaming will not.”
Melanie added that while the internet presents a lot of opportunities, allowing under-fives to have lots of screen-based entertainment may mean they have less time for imaginative, physical, creative and outdoor play.
“Children need interaction, social content and physical play in order to develop their language and social skills and make sense of the world,” she said.