UK families would rather cut down on food than broadband

O2's latest Digital Families Report shows that most families in the UK would rather cut down on food and utility bills than on their broadband internet connection.

Families chose the Internet (67%) over school uniforms (59%), family holidays (30%) and the weekly food shop (24%) on items they were reluctant to cut back on in the credit crunch.

A third of parents claimed that access to email and the internet on the move makes it easier to balance work and family responsibilities. Only 6% said it made it harder. 60% of parents said:'technology such as email and mobile phones helps us communicate better as a family'.

Families are also using technology to help maintain relationships, with 51% of parents playing computer games together in a typical week and over one third will sit down and surf the Internet together. Similarly, around one in five parents are using social networks to keep in touch with immediate (19%) and extended (22%) family members.

"How parents control technology is key to maintaining work-life balance," said social analyst Bob Tyrell, who compiled the report. "Many may argue that the ability to stay in touch with work means we never completely switch off and relax, but the verdict from our report shows this does not weigh too heavily with parents."

However also according to the report, there is still no substitute for families spending traditional quality time together. 45% of parents stated a family meal is the best way to maintain family bonds. Families now eat together an average of 5.4 times a week.

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