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UK's 'web-savvy' rating suffers accordingly

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A UK government survey has found that just 12 per cent of 13 to 18-year-olds avail themselves of "adult-only" websites, preferring instead to use the internet to assist in doing homework or for news.

Indeed, the eight-year survey of 6,400 pupils in England - carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills - discovered that 18 per cent of the nation's youth surfed for news or current affairs, 52 per cent hooked up to IM services and 36 per cent went cybershopping. More than three-quarters used the web for homework-related activities.

The BBC further notes that 48 per cent of teens trust TV "completely or a lot" while a paltry 13 per cent put their faith in newspapers. Shockingly, and despite virtually relentless pre-election TV entertainment as New Labour and Conservatives hurl abuse at each other, 67 per cent of young 'uns confessed they were "not very interested in politics".

That young people today are failing to avail themselves of readily-available e-smut is a sad state of affairs indeed, and more than adequately explains Britain's inexorable decline in the Economist Intelligence Unit's "e-readiness" world league. According to Reuters, Denmark remains No.1 in the "web-savvy" stakes, while the UK slipped three places from it's 2004 No.2 spot "due to weak position in education".

The EIU's survey said: "It's [Britain's] performance in some e-readiness criteria now appears in a less positive light than previously. This includes the educational level of the population, which is lower than most other western European countries."

Exactly - it's all very well rolling out wireless broadband to 99.97 per cent of population if the kids aren't properly guided as to how to find Paris Hilton's topless mobe snaps or Pammy Anderson's video roll in the hay with Tommy Lee.

For the record, below are the top 20 "e-ready" (aka "web-savvy" for those who like their headlines with a bit more snap) nations "based on a measure of [a country's] e-business environment, a collection of factors that indicate how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities". Criteria include broadband access, mobile penetration, deployment of public-access hotspots, net security, government e-services, blah, blah, blah:

1. Denmark
2. US
3. Sweden
4. Switzerland
5. UK
6= Hong Kong
6= Finland
8. Netherlands
9. Norway
10. Australia
11. Singapore
12= Canada
12= Germany
14. Austria
15. Ireland
16. New Zealand
17. Belgium
18. S. Korea
19. France
20. Israel

Yup, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all feature in the top ten. We can be absolutely certain that 85 per cent of their 13 to 18-year-olds know their way round a nude celebrities subscription site. ®

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