Life through a lens: How Britain’s children eat, sleep and breathe TV
Read the article from The Guardian
In modern-day Britain many children spend a lot of their daily lives watching television. They watch TV before they go to school, when they return home, as they eat their evening meal and then (63% of them – a much higher percentage than read a book each day) in bed at night. The survey of five to 16-year-olds shows that four out of every five children now have a TV set in their bedroom.
Many children now do other things while they watch television, including social networking on the Internet, looking from their laptop to the TV screen and back again. Even if they are watching television, young people often do not watch just one programme. Boys in particular often switch from one channel to another and back again to watch two programmes at the same time. Many people worry that childhood is now more about private space and sedentary activities than about play, social interaction or the child’s own imagination.
Children are watching more television than before. The amount of television-watching decreased over the last three years but is now increasing again. This is mainly the result of more girls watching soaps.
Children’s use of the Internet is also increasing rapidly. British children spend an average of five hours and 20 minutes in front of a screen every day, compared with four hours and 40 minutes five years ago. But children do not read for pleasure as much as they did in the past. Four out of five children read books in their own time but only one out of four read books every day and only 53% at least once a week.
Children aged 5 to 16 watch television for an average 2.6 hours a day, and one in 10 say they watch more than four hours a day. 58% children watch TV during their evening meal, while 63% lie in bed watching TV. 66% – particularly the youngest children – watch before school, and 83% turn on the television after returning home.
Television is now “a part of children’s lives”. Children watch it in a different way now. “In the past they paid a lot of attention when they watched television but now it is everywhere, at home and everywhere you go.
Children now multitask. They have one eye on the television while they read magazines or use the computer. When researchers asked boys to choose between programmes on different channels they often didn’t want to choose and said they wanted to ‘watch both’. They switch from one programme to another and cannot imagine that they need to make a decision. They are surprised when you ask them to make a choice.
Computers are also now a key part of children’s private worlds. The Internet is now an important part of most young people’s lives. 85% of five to 16-year-olds use the Internet, and over a third (including a quarter of five to six-year-olds) own a computer or laptop. On average, they go online just over four times a week and spend two hours online each time.
The survey shows that children are using the Internet more and more, especially younger children. This is mainly because of social networking sites like Bebo. The main reason children use the Internet is communication (social networking), then fun (online games) and finally studying. Almost three quarters (72%) of children have visited a social networking site, and over half have their own profile. Sometimes they lie about their age if there are minimum age requirements to join a social networking site. Children as young as eight are now joining sites like these.
People are worried about the possible results of children’s TV and Internet viewing habits.
Guess what the words below mean using the exercise
- A ___________________ is a set of questions that you ask a large number of people
- ___________________ is the time of a person’s life when they are a child.
- ___________________ is when you study something in detail to discover new facts.
- If you ___________________, you do more than one thing at the same time.
- ___________________ is the opposite of increase.
- If you do a ___________________ activity, you sit down a lot and don’t do much exercise.
- If you ___________________ something, it is yours, usually because you have bought it.
- A ___________________is a television series about the lives of a group of people.
- A __________________is an amount that is equal to part of a total you have divided by 100.
- An ___________________ is a usual level or standard.
Look in the text and find this information as quickly as possible
- How many children have a TV set in their bedroom?
- What percentage of British children watch TV in bed at night
- How many children read books in their own time each day?
- How many children did the survey interview?
- What percentage of children watch TV during their evening meal?
- What percentage of children use the Internet?
Match the beginnings and the endings to make sentences about the text
|1. Children are spending more and more …||a. … because more girls are watching soaps.|
|2. The amount of television watching is increasing again…||b. … turn on the television when they get home from school.|
|3. The main reason children use the Internet…||c. … own a laptop.|
|4. Two thirds of children…||d. … time watching TV and using the Internet.|
|5. Over a third of children…||e. … watch TV before they go to school.|
|6. 83% of children…||f. … is social networking|
Match the phrases from the text with the percentages
|1. Four out of five children||a. 25%|
|2. One out of four children||b. 63%|
|3. One in ten children||c. 25%|
|4. Three quarters of children||d. 10%|
|5. A quarter of five to six-year olds||e. 75%|
|6. Nearly two thirds of children||f. 80%|
Rearrange the words to make phrases from the text.
- chool they before to go
- least week at once a
- going sleep to before
- hours more a than day four
- returning after home
- channel switch to one from another