Most 14-year-olds do no homework on average weekday

Girls more likely to do homework – and chores – than boys

Helen Ward

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The majority of 14-year-olds do no homework on a typical weekday evening, a new study has suggested.

The UCL Institute of Education has found that 60 per cent of the teenagers shun their schoolbooks on an average weekday evening – but about half spend time on social media.

About 3,500 teenagers were asked to keep a detailed time-use diary – recording their activities via a smartphone app or online – for one weekday and one weekend day.

The teenagers’ diaries reveal that just 40 per cent do homework on an average weekday; the figure for boys is 35 per cent, and for girls it is 44 per cent.

Those who do homework spend an average of 1 hour 13 minutes doing it. 

Previous international studies have found that England’s teenagers spend less time doing homework than those in other countries. Just 1 per cent of 14-year-old pupils spend three hours or more per week on maths homework – less than any other participating country, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

Reading shunned

The latest study also finds that even less popular than homework is reading – which only one in 10 of the teens spend any time doing.

In contrast, 62 per cent of girls and 39 per cent of boys spend some time on social media on a weekday – with one in 10 of the 14 year-olds saying they spend more than three hours per day online.

Boys prefer gaming to social media with almost half (48 per cent) of all boys spending time on video games, and of these, 12 per cent spending in excess of five hours per day gaming. Just one in 10 girls play video games.

The study also reveals other striking gender differences. Girls spend about 1 hour 12 minutes on average getting ready to leave the home on a weekday – almost half an hour more than boys.

And girls are also much more likely to help out around the house, with 31 per cent doing chores at home on a weekday, compared with just 19 per cent of their male peers.

Sedentary lifestyles

Boys are more likely to take part in sports outside of school, with 46 per cent of teenage boys doing this during the week, compared with 39 per cent of girls.

But the findings have also raised concerns about activity levels among teens, with 72 per cent of teens spending more than two-and-a-half hours on sedentary forms of entertainment, including watching TV, playing video games and listening to music.

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, principal investigator of the Millennium Cohort Study, said: “These findings provide unparalleled insight into how young people in the UK spend their time … There is now enormous potential to better understand how different aspects of teenagers’ lives fit together.

“For example, is there a relationship between girls’ use of social media and their mental health? Does the popularity of social media and gaming play any part in the obesity crisis among young people?

“These are really important questions and this rich new data will be instrumental in answering them.” 

The findings come after a study published last year found internet use among UK teenagers is among the highest in the world, with more than a third of teenagers on the internet for at least six hours per day. The research also identified a correlation between high levels of internet use and poor wellbeing.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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