EngineeringUK

Parents sent to the back of the class as tech-savvy kids take charge of home technology

Two thirds of parents now have to be taught how to use technology by their children.

Today’s parents rely on the know-how of their kids to teach them how to use everything from the modem to the microwave. 

Research conducted by The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair among children aged 11-16 and their parents reveals that two thirds of kids are regularly asked to help their parents use modern technology.

The most common device that children have to explain to their parental pupils is the computer, with a nearly a third of mums and dads confessing to being confused. The top five technologies that perplex parents are:

1) The computer – 28% of those surveyed need help when they log on
2) MP3 players – 27% of parents need help with their digital downloads
3) Video-game consoles – almost a quarter (24%) admit to needing guidance while gaming
4) Over a fifth (22%) need help from their children to get the most out of their mobile
5) 17% can’t get to grips with their TV without the help of their offspring

And it’s not just modern technology that children are leading the way on. 50% of parents say they increasingly rely on their kids to help them live their daily lives. From using less energy (33%) to understanding recycling (13%) and even deciphering nutritional information on the back of packaging (5%). 

Far from being frustrated by their parents’ lack of technological skill, a fifth of children enjoy being able to help their mums and dads use technology, with one in ten advising them about  which gizmos the family should invest in.

The research reveals that despite their lack of technical know how, parents are still the first port of call for children when they have a question about how the world works. However according to kids, 79% of parents are left stumped, with more than half (53%) having to look something up or telling their children to ask someone else. And around a fifth of youngsters (18%) said they have caught their parents out making up answers to the things they don’t know.

Despite their apparent lack of knowledge, technology is the area that parents are questioned about most, followed by human biology, animals and how things are made.

The findings reveal nearly a half of mums and dads have gone online to do research, a quarter have bought or checked out books and a fifth have organised educational trips to museums or galleries to help answer their kids’ queries.

The research also shows that some children still need to be empowered to ask questions about the things they don’t understand.  23% of youngsters believe it’s too difficult to get their head around the way their world works and 22% are too embarrassed to ask something they think is common knowledge; a further 18% claim to simply not know where to start looking for the answers.

TV physicist Professor Brian Cox who is supporting The Big Bang Fair 2013 says:
“The important thing is to make sure that people understand that science is something they can do. It’s a real misconception that you have to be a genius, you just have to be interested and open to new ideas.  It’s really a case of demonstrating that education enhances immeasurably the interest that is already present.”

Families can help unlock the answers to how the world works at The Big Bang Fair, the UK’s biggest celebration of science and engineering for young people.

The free event, held at ExCeL London from 14 – 17 March, features hundreds of interactive activities and some of the country's leading scientists and engineers will be on hand to answer youngsters’ most burning questions, as well as showcasing the career options available to take their interests even further.
Professor Brian Cox says: “The Big Bang Fair is about enjoying science and engineering for their own sake, but it’s also the perfect starting point for students wanting to find out more about the career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and maths.”
Schools and families can find out more and book their place by visiting www.thebigbangfair.co.uk.

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For further information please call Mark Atkins or Orla O’Neill at Consolidated PR on 020 7781 2300 or email bigbang@consolidatedpr.com.

Notes to editors

* Research undertaken by OnePoll among a sample of 1,297 parents of children aged 11-16 and children aged 11-16 from 21 – 24 January 2013.

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair 
The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair will take place from 14-17 March 2013 at ExCeL London, and will celebrate and raise the profile of young people’s achievement in science and engineering and encourage more young people to take part in science, technology, engineering and maths initiatives with support from their parents and teachers. School groups will be invited to visit the first two days of The Big Bang Fair, which will also be open to the public on the Saturday and Sunday. Young people will leave enlightened about how science and engineering feature in everything they wear, eat and do. A number of apprentice, graduate and experienced engineers and scientists will be on hand to quiz and young people will have the opportunity to discover a great career.

The Big Bang hosts the finals of the prestigious National Science + Engineering Competition and is also the flagship event of National Science & Engineering Week 2013.

For more information please visit www.nsecuk.org.