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Homework vs. video games and social media – the unequal battle

Posted May 15, 2018

Schools are important, but children are still expected to put little bit of work by themselves at home. It is because school can be distracting and at home you can use all the help you need.  However, do children still care about homework? A new UCL-led study, including 3,500 UK teenagers, found that they prefer spending their time on social media and gaming after school.

The thumb generation doesn’t spend too much time doing homework. Image credit: Tomwsulcer via Wikimedia

And this doesn’t really come as a surprise – we see it everywhere. Teenagers are much keener on using electronics and getting their screen time than studying and doing academic exercises. Participants of this study were invited to log their day-to-day activities online or using an app. 61 % of girls and 39 % of boys reported spending some time on social media on a weekday. The average time online was about 1 hour and 21 minutes per day, but around 1 in 10 of those teenagers who did use social media spent up to 3 hours every day browsing.

That doesn’t look too much, does it? But 48 % of boys reported gaming on weekdays and 12 % of them spent in excess of five hours a day gaming. For comparison, 44 % of girls and 35 % of boys reported doing homework on weekdays. On average only 1 hour 13 minutes were spent doing homework.

This study revealed other differences as well. For example, girls took longer to get ready to start their day and they were more likely to help around the house. Meanwhile boys were more likely to spend time outside and be physically active. However, sitting in front of computer or TV was far more popular anyway. This is especially concerning because of the spread of obesity among teenagers. This is a fairly recent trend – it is the first generation of children growing up with so little movement. Scientists are hoping that all this information will help policy makers, parents and future researches.

Obviously, this research only included teenagers from UK, but similar trends could surely be observed throughout the developed world. Professor Emla Fitzsimons, one of the investigators of this study, said: “combined with other information we have collected from this group through our surveys, there is now enormous potential to better understand how different aspects of teenagers’ lives fit together. For example, is there a relationship between girls’ use of social media and their mental health?”

These are all very important questions and we will have to see how the generation that grew up on screens will look in the future.


Source: UCL

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