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Families fight over PCs shock

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Computers have become such an integral part of family life that they are causing rows over who gets to use them.

Ninety per cent of British families with computers experience arguments over who gets to use the household computer and for how long, according to a survey of UK children and their parents' use of computers and the internet. These rivalries have led to 43 per cent of parents of 9-17 year-olds to impose rules stating for what purpose for how long each person can use the computer.

"In our research on families and the internet, we found that priority is most often given to older siblings who have urgent homework to finish," Dr Magdalena Bober told BBC News.

To solve this problem, many families buy additional computers; "over a third of nine-19 year-olds have more than one computer at home," she said.

Bober works with Dr Sonia Livingstone on a major London School of Economics project looking at parents and young people's use of technology. The survey was carried out for Packard Bell.

Ninety per cent of 15-24 year-olds interviewed use the internet for homework. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) use it for email and 70 per cent use computers for playing games. Over a third of families approved of storing films and music on a home computer.

The internet is also seen as a useful tool for keeping in touch: 62 per cent of computer-using over 55s and 20 per cent of 45-54 year-olds use email to communicate with their children who have left home. However, only 19 per cent of 15-24 year olds surveyed keep in touch with their parents.

According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, 35 per cent of people in the UK access the internet from home via a dial-up connection, on a pay-as-you-go basis. About 29 per cent access the net on unmetered dial-up and 31 per cent have an always-on, broadband connection. ®

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