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How being online affects kids’ homework

BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Nearly two thirds of parents believe their kids are too distracted online when they should be doing homework.

The new research from BT Whole Home Wi-Fi surveyed 1,000 parents with children under the age of 18. It found that the constant distraction of social networks, messaging, online games and other online services were detrimental to their kids’ concentration on homework.

A whopping 72 per cent of parents with children aged 7-18 claimed that when their child was doing homework they looked on the internet for the answer. While half of parents thought it takes their kids longer to finish as they get distracted. When it comes to turning off devices at bedtime,  a quarter of parents acknowledged regularly arguing with children.

Other key findings included:

  • Only 48 per cent of children came off the internet when their parents ask.
  • 33 per cent of 10-16 year old children say they’d turned off their devices at bedtime when they hadn’t.
  • 64 per cent believed modern technology gives children access to a world of knowledge
More control, please

Just over half of the parents said would like better built-in controls to help manage their family’s online time. BT’s Whole Home Wi-Fi helps parents with a variety of features like the ability to pause the internet for specific devices, and smart WiFi scheduling to help with bedtimes and offline time.

Bruce Cuthbert, Director of BT Devices, “There are so many benefits for our children online, and an equal number of distractions. With kids back in school and autumn upon us, we’re spending more time indoors and the temptation is for kids to spend more time online. With Whole Home Wi-Fi, parents can pause and schedule connectivity in the home by device to help children focus during study time and improve their sleep, finding the right balance of online and offline time for the whole family.”

Nearly half of parents asked (47%) admitted that the use of technology and being online means they don’t spend as much time with their children as they would like to. And over half of parents (54%) wished their children would come to them with homework questions instead of using a search engine or voice assistant.

Constant pressure

In addition, the new research showed that children’s favourite thing to do with free time is to go online, with 82% of 14 year olds choosing to go on YouTube.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters said, “Whether it’s playing the latest game, or the constant pressure of feeling they need to respond to their friends’ messages, being connected can be a huge distraction for children. Combined with open discussions with children about being online, tools like Whole Home Wi-Fi that allow families to schedule their connectivity can be hugely helpful for parents trying to create a healthier balance of screen time versus family time. Children respond well to clear boundaries, so having a routine of when they can go online and when they can’t helps prevent that common tug of war over the tablet or games console. Our top tips on creating a healthy home environment for screen time can guide parents in how to tackle some of the challenges they face.”

Internet Matters has also developed guidance for parents with BT to help families find the right balance for online time at home:

Internet Matters Top Tips for Parents

  1. Agree a routine and appropriate length of time children can be online
  2. Put in place a family agreement to set the boundaries – don’t break them!
  3. Use technology and apps like BT’s Whole Home Wi-Fi to manage screen time and Wi-Fi access, especially at bedtimes
  4. Talk together about the time you spend online
  5. Get the whole family to unplug and create ‘screen free zones’
  6. Set a good example with your own device use

For more product information about BT Whole Home Wi-Fi please visit the BT Shop.

BT partners with non-for profit-organisation Internet Matters to share the latest online safety advice with even more parents and children across the UK through online information and guides.