Almost three-quarters of 7-14 year olds teach their mums and dads how to use computers, a new survey has revealed.

The study, conducted by Microsoft Student Licence and entitled 'Kids Speak Out', surveyed 250 youngsters across the UK on their views on the importance of technology.

Some 59 per cent of 7-14 year olds rated computing as one of the top three most important skills to learn in school, increasing to 70% of 13-14 year olds. Only mathematics and science won more votes in this area, with languages, sport and social skills fairing poorly in comparison.

Children as young as eleven were found to rate themselves better at computers than their parents, with boys slightly more confident in this assertion than girls. Children were also more likely to rate their IT skills above those of their mum than those of their dad.

While kids are generally sympathetic about their parents' lack of IT know-how, a third of 7-14 year olds find the weakness 'annoying' and more than half of 7-8 year olds are irritated by having to help so much.

The survey revealed that 65 per cent of 7-14 year olds are more enthusiastic about schoolwork which involves the use of computers. 'Fun' and 'more effective learning' were quoted by 7-10 year olds as the main reasons for this preference, with the 'look' of a piece of work becoming a bigger concern as children get older.

The survey found that computers feature heavily in kids' visions of their working life, though boys expect technology to be more important to their future than girls. Asked what help they hoped technology would be to them in the future, both boys and girls gave most votes to communication with friends and time travel - beating shopping on the web, finding jobs and designing and creating things.

David Burrows, head of the Microsoft education group, says: "This research has given us a great range of insights into today's kids and how technology is influencing their lives - from empowering a switch in roles with their parents to how using the computer can make homework a brighter prospect!"


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This was first published in December 2000

 

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