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Most kids are not PC-literate

The so-called "Nintendo generation" of computer-savvy kids who are more PC-literate than their parents is a myth, says the director of a centre studying youth and media.

David Buckingham, professor of education at the Institute of Education, London university, said young users do not use PCs in an innovative way.

Instead they shop, talk to friends and find out about hobbies. Researchers underestimated how banal children's use of computers was, he told the Digital Generations conference, held at the institute.

"Cyber kids may exist, but I would say they are in the minority," he said.

"A marginal few are interested in technology per se, but they are more interested in what they can do with it instead."

The conference also heard from Trevor Harris, of the University of Wales at Lampeter, who said that the information technology GCSE is too easy and is becoming obsolete as pupils become computer literate at primary school.

Computer studies needed to be more scientific or focused on technology in business, with skills learned at primary school used as tools to aid learning in other classes, he said.

But Andrew Johnson, head of ICT at Stafford grammar, said 11-year-olds still had only basic skills and needed ICT teaching to learn theory and more complex applications such as databases.

"Pupils who would like to follow ICT or computers to a higher level or as a vocation need grounding at GCSE, or the jump to ASA2 is too large," he said.

* The number of interactive whiteboards in primary classrooms has almost doubled in the past year as ICT spending surged, according to the latest government figures.

The study, ICT in schools in England: 2004, showed that the number of whiteboards per school increased from 1 to 1.9 in the past year. The average number of computers in primaries rose from 28.6 to 31.6, and average ICT spending rose 30 per cent to pound;14,800.

At secondary level, the average number of whiteboards rose from 4.3 to 7.5.

Average ICT expenditure went up from pound;65,100 to pound;88,600 per school. The number of computers per school rose from 192.7 in 2003 to 217.6 in 2004.

The Government has now hit its target of one computer for every eight primary pupils and one for every five secondary pupils.

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