Herald Survey

Dawn of the Computer Age

Computer games were not included in the 1988 survey and the Internet was not an option for teenage amusement or enlightenment

Have they taken over from the television as the new "thief" in the corner of the teenage bedroom rather than the living room?.

More than 60% said that they regularly played computer games but there are marked gender differences.

Among boys, 81% play computer games and on average spend five hours and 45 minutes on them every week and if only those who regularly played such games are taken into account then the real time spent on them is more likely to be nearly seven hours a week.

Sports-based games are popular with the boys with 10% selecting Fifa97, hockey and formula one racing are also mentioned. The more aggressive games such as Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat and Doom account for about 10% of computer games named by boys.

Among girls, 54% had no interest in computer games. Girls spend on average one hour 35 minutes at the console. Again, if only those who play computer games are considered, the real-time figure is likely to be nearer three hours and 40 minutes. Not only are fewer girls playing computer games, their choice of games is also markedly different. The most popular games with girls were Sonic and Mario, both of which suggest an appreciation of humour.

If jobs in the future will demand Information Technology skills it is worrying that girls seem to be so little attracted to computers. Games, however, don't tell the full story. Although only 16% of those surveyed overall said that they regularly used educational computer programs, slightly more of this group were girls than boys.

Encyclopaedias such as Encarta were the most commonly mentioned programs and girls who used them spent about half an hour on them every week. Boys who used educational programs were more likely to spend about forty-five minutes with them.

In our survey 29% of boys and 28% of girls had accessed the Internet. The figure is similar for youngsters elsewhere in the UK but shows a move towards use of the Internet by girls. At present about 40% of all Internet users in the UK are female.

Thirty-seven percent of girls who used the Internet said that they did so at school or in the library. Findings in surveys of adult women show that they are more likely to use the Internet as a tool at work rather than as a hobby. Only 30% of girls who regularly accessed the Internet said that they did so at home or at a friend's house.

With boys the picture is almost the reverse. Forty-seven percent of boys who used the Internet did so at home or at a friend's house while only 19% used the facilities at school or in the library.

Boys also seemed more prone to surfing, spending an average of an hour and a half when online whereas girls were more likely to disconnect after 45 minutes.

Herald Media Survey
What they Watch
Listening Habits
What they Read