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An alarming 50 per cent of Children will have wasted time looking at Facebook

Global Secure Systems (GSS) – a leading IT security consultancy, has uncovered the alarming reality that UK school children are studying social networking websites during their lessons instead of what they should be concentrating on. In its survey, conducted through Facebook, to discover just how widespread the issue of children visiting sites of this nature at inappropriate times is, a staggering 52 per cent of the 1000 children aged between 13 and 17 who participated, confessed that they did so during lessons. Over a quarter admitted they were doing so for in excess of 30 minutes a day!

The initial discovery was made by David Hobson, managing director of GSS, when he spent a day at a local public school speaking to its pupils about Internet ethics and behaviour. During his presentation to a class of 13 year olds, who were all diligently tapping away on their laptops, he asked how many had visited social networking sites during their lessons. David was astounded when they all raised their hands! This ignited his determination to uncover if this was an isolated case or rife amongst school children.

“I am disturbed, but not surprised, by the findings of this survey. There are two main issues; one is the safety of youngsters on the web and the second is the time that is frittered away. The time youngsters spend on the internet, and more specifically on social networking sites, is a huge challenge for parents and those of us in education. Says Toby Mullins, Head of Seaford College
“Youngsters are not only using lesson time but often quietly continue late into the night, leaving them short of sleep and irritable the next day. I think a study like this to highlight the problem is very timely. We now need to plan for a solution."

David Hobson added, "Kids are potentially wasting as much as two and a half hours a week of lessons on Facebook. I recognise that there is a place for social networking, with a whole new generation now relying on it to communicate, but not at the expense of an education. Schools could learn a lesson from industry and ensure school children productively use the internet. Through the deployment of software, access to inappropriate websites can either be completely blocked, or limited to break time, economically and efficiently."

In a separate GSS poll, conducted with Infosecurity Europe 2008, it discovered that the recent popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, is costing UK corporations close to £6.5 billion annually in lost productivity. GSS itself as a company recently clamped down on social networking during working hours. When faced with the need for additional bandwidth, David Hobson their MD, analysed why and discovered that by simply restricting the times that sites of this nature could be accessed to lunchtimes and after close of business there was no longer the need to increase bandwidth and so saved thousands of pounds.