Following on from a three year study in the US of A, researchers have determined that online time "is good for teens".

Blowing away many parents' notion that surfing the web, playing games and visiting social networking sites is a waste of time, the report suggests time online is important for teen development.

The study, which was sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, was part of a $50m (£31m) project on digital media and learning. It took in 800 teenagers and parents, observing participants for more than 5000 hours.

"They are learning the technological skills and literacy needed for the contemporary world", said the report's author, Dr Mimi Ito.

"They are learning how to communicate online, craft a public identity, create a home page, post links."

"All these things were regarded as sophisticated 10 years ago but young people today take them for granted", Dr Ito added to the BBC.

The report also suggested that parents should take more of an interest in what their children are looking at to be able to engage with them.