Tablets turn 'electronic babysitters' for British families

British parents are increasingly using tablet computers as 'electronic babysitters', new research has revealed. A report by Ofcom found that gadgets such as iPads are a must-have for many mums and dads, with 91 per cent of those who own one admitting their child either uses theirs or has one of their own.

Parents use tablets as 'electronic babysitters'

Pic: AP

Of those, 50 per cent said their child uses the tablet every day, and 17 per cent confessed that the kids turn it on several times a day.

The report, which looked into how we communicate, found that tech is taking over in many homes, with children as young as five using tablets to watch films, play games or do their homework.

A total of 3,700 UK residents were quizzed over their use of technology in the home, and the report suggested British living rooms have been "transformed into a digital media hub".

Live TV still accounts for 90 per cent of all viewing, but 41 per cent of households now make do with one television set, as people turn to tablets for their TV needs.

One in four own at least one tablet computer, and 56 per cent use the gadget for watching live TV, YouTube or catch-up services.

But psychologists have warned that many are missing out by not settling in to watch TV together.

Dr Linda Blair told the Daily Mail: "There is so much more loneliness these days because we're missing out on physical contact with others and this is just another example."

Dr Blair also warned of the physical effects of too much screen time, adding: "The light that is emitted from our electronic devices affects the melatonin levels in our body and makes us much more alert and wakeful than we want to be and is one of the main contributions to insomnia now.

"I get a huge number of kids who are unable to concentrate or can't get to sleep at night and one of the key things we work on is reducing screen time."

The survey also revealed that even when we are watching programmes on a traditional telly, many of us are on the tablet, smartphone or laptop simultaneously.

What do you think? Is technology causing a breakdown of communication in the home? Leave your comments below...