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Kids use the internet a lot, Pope a Catholic

So each month UK children spend an average of 43.5 hours online. And we're supposed to be surprised, even worried, by this? So it would seem, going by the deluge of press coverage.

Symantec's Norton Online Living report tells us this about our yout', and more. It points out that, according to Symantec's figures, children are spending twice as much time on the web as their hapless parents believe they are. The cheeky wee sods.

Okay, the lack of clarity is a concern, but still, 43.5 hours a month? That's a little more than 13 hours a week, less than two hours a day. It's a smidgeon on top of the the working month of an average technology journalist - ie, it's no time at all. Which leads me to wonder what on earth they do for the rest of the time?

(Is it possible that, rather than spending their time on wholesome activities such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, our children are kicking balls, flying kites and helping old ladies across roads? I think we should be told.)

In fact, most evidence suggests that when young people are 'online', they are generally also watching TV or listening to music. Some may even have their homework or a book open (albeit just for show). It's the equivalent of the 12-year-old me watching Newsround, Ulysees and Blue Peter (and starting fights with my sister because I was so very, very bored).

The digital divide between young and not-so-young has never been so wide. And, given the way today's school children grow up as digital natives, the chances are it will never be so big again. But we shouldn't fear it. (Don't fear the tech, embrace the tech.)

No-one ever got obese from using a computer (despite Domino's Pizza's best efforts). It's the eating pies, drinking fizzy nonsense and making like a sloth that do that. The little 'uns should be encouraged to spend a reasonable amount of (lightly supervised) time online, checking in with friends and keeping up with trends we don't understand.

Take it from someone who'd never shut down a PC before attending university: the modern and future workforce needs to be at ease with computer technology to get on. And if kids aren't joining in, they may be frozen out.

Yes, supervision is important, and children need to know the boundaries of behaviour, online and off. But the next time we learn that - shock, horror - young people spend more time surfing the web than their elders and betters, let's keep the chorus of disapproval down to a vague mutter.

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