Net to become mass media for children, says new study

The Internet is poised to attain mass media status among UK children, but further progress remains at risk because of the proliferation of unregulated and upsetting adult material, according to a survey released this week by NOP Research Group.

The survey, sponsored by Microsoft, BBC, NatWest Bank and Anglia Multimedia, says that 2.4 million children aged six-to-16 years – a third of the age group – have used the Net, with another 1.8 million expecting to get online over the next year.

Average access time remains limited to about one hour a week, compared with a reported 15 hours a week of TV viewing among the 3,805 children interviewed.

Despite limited access times reported by the age group, Barbie Clarke, head of NOP Family, says the Internet may be reaching mass media status for the age group. However, the survey found that children and adults remain wary of the amount of “upsetting” adult material on the Web.

An estimated 500,000 children using the Internet have found something that has “upset” or “embarrassed” them, according to the survey.

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