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British children gorge on Net diet

Facebook or family time? No contest!

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British children are spending too much time online and admit it - to researchers, if not to their parents.

One in five confess to staying up too late, and missing dinners to hang out on the net.

And more than half say they spend less time on family, friends or school work because of the internet.

These are some of the finding of the EU Kids Online team, based at the London School of Economics.

Their research shows distinct differences between British kids and their counterparts in other European countries.

For starters they are more web savvy (or maybe their parents are more relaxed or laissez-faire - or ignorant about their children's internet usage).

The LSE team characterises the UK as a high use - but low risk country in terms of how British children handle the internet (previously it was ranked high in both categories). According to its findings, British kids have a good understanding of "how to negotiate risky activity online and to protect themselves".

As they should, since most primary schools run internet awareness classes these days. But LSE project leader Professor Sonia Livingstone says new risks such as anorexia and suicide websites need to be scrutinised.

EU Kids online found that 43 per cent of British children aged 9-16 agreed that they use the internet too much, compared with 30 per cent for Europe as a whole.

Some 65 per cent of British kids use Facebook and / or Twitter compared with 57 per cent across Europe.

The report's findings are published at EU Kids Online.

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