Social networking more important than family

Facebook has become one of the biggest influences on the lives of girls, according to a recent survey conducted by National Family Week.

A study of 8-15-year-olds for National Family Week found 40% of girls identified Facebook as one of the most important things in their lives – compared with 6% of boys. Parents were found to underestimate the significance of technology.

The survey, based on 3,000 parents and 1,000 children across the UK, looked at the perceptions of children and parents of family life presents a picture of girls using social networking as something central to their social and family life.

Girls saw websites such as Facebook as much more influential than television, magazines, celebrities and even their own siblings. Asked to name the three most important things in their lives, the most popular choices for girls were friends, family and then Facebook and MSN.

For boys, family was a more popular choice – chosen by 73% of boys, compared with 53% of girls. For their other choices, boys identified money and friends as their next most important things.

The survey claims that parents have failed to keep up with their children's use of technology, overestimating their own importance in their children's lives. Facebook says that children should not register to use its website until they are 13.

National Family Week runs from 31 May to 6 June.