A new study has revealed that children these days spend increasing amounts of their lives in watching television and playing video games, cramming about six hours of screen time a day, and this online activity is building barriers between parents and children.
More than a third of the study participants, five- to 16-year-olds, said that they just could not live without their computers.
The authors of the study have revealed that children are increasingly turning their rooms into multimedia hubs comprising games consoles, internet access and MP3 players.
The study revealed that girls in particular were likely to chat online to their friends at night, and 38 per cent would take a console to bed instead of a book.
Kids whose parents had banned TV sets from their bedrooms justified Internet access on the basis that it would help with homework, but the latest from market research agency ChildWise showed that such children were more likely to socialise than do homework online.
About 30 per cent said that they had a blog, while 62 per cent had a profile on a social networking site.
The researchers revealed that their report was based on an annual survey, presently into its 15th year, of 1,800 children at 92 schools across the country.
"This year has seen a major boost to the intensity and the independence with which children approach online activities," the Guardian quoted the study report as saying.
While spending time before TV and computer screens seems to have turned children skilled managers of their free time, book reading is falling out of favour.
The report suggests that 84 per cent children read for pleasure in 2006, 80 per cent in 2007, and 74 per cent 2008.
"The internet has moved to a whole new level. They are watching the same amount of TV but there is a change in the way children communicate and get their information. It's so clear that a lot of children are fluent communicators but not in a conventional way. They aren't readers, they are reliant on spellchecks," said Rosemary Duff, ChildWise's research director.
"They are a generation abandoning print and paper, and the whole integration of technology and the way they glide from one to the other is seamless. They will be surfing the net, talking to a friend and downloading a track simultaneously. It's hard for the older generation to understand what's going on with their children because they communicate in a completely different way," Rosemary added.
Duff further said: "38% of nine- to 14-year-old girls take the games console to bed at night. That is the age group of girls who used to be the most avid readers. Now they have a media hub in their rooms."