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40% of families have ‘no meaningful conversation’, with sport and reality TV topping current affairs

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The average family is more likely to talk about sport and reality TV around the dinner table than politics and current affairs, a study has revealed. Researchers found drivers of conversation in the average British household involve the royal baby, summer heat wave, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon success and the London 2012 Olympics, one year on.

Chatting regularly about shows like The Apprentice and Coronation Street also proves common as we sit down to our evening meal.

The study also found that the typical family spends just 22 minutes chatting during and after the meal, with 57% rarely, if ever, talking about what’s happening in politics.

Sharon Ament of the Museum of London, which commissioned the poll, said:

”You can understand why light-hearted news – like sport or television – dominate our daily lives.

”It can be tough for parents with kids of different ages to engage the whole family in conversations that appeal to them all – particularly with the hi-tech gadgets that most kids carry around every day.

”In this age of technology many parents are anxious about bonding with their children and really engaging them on a regular basis.

”Taking the chance to get away from the routine, doing something different together and spending time as a family can go a long way to strengthening relationships.”

The research found 40% felt they no longer had meaningful conversation as a family, and nearly two thirds felt the art of good conversation is a dying skill.

The survey also found more than half of the parents quizzed said they find it difficult to talk to their children – with the biggest reason being ‘they don’t seem interested in talking to me’.

And families only sit down together 10 times a month on average, less than three times a wee

Hectic routines, general fatigue and ‘because the television is usually on’ were the biggest reasons cited.

In fact, 45% of meals eaten by the average British family are done so in front of the television.

One in four parents feel they have less conversation with their own children than they did with their parents as a youngster.

More distractions, being permanently connected to the internet and just generally moving a lot faster were the main reasons given.

42% of parents worry they don’t talk enough as a family and nearly half sometimes find it hard to bond with their children.

Perhaps that explains why four in ten parents admitted it often feels like they don’t know what’s going on in their children’s lives.

Sharon Ament added:

”It’s clear that lighter topics of conversation are the order of the day, with more than half of the 2,000 British families studied avoiding heavy news as their conversation starter, with just a fifth saying it’s something they chat about often.

“A day out with the family is one way of kickstarting conversation away from the dinner table.

”Many museums are free, and can add spice to your family chats.”

The top talking point revealed by the survey also features in the Museum of London’s own collection.

A free display at the museum, A Royal Arrival, showcases baby clothes and memorabilia worn by former royal babies, from Charles I to George III and Edward VII to link the latest royal arrival to over 400 years of UK history.

The Wimbledon tennis tournament receives a spotlight in Cover Story: Radio Times at 90, a new exhibition which marks the 90th anniversary of Radio Times. Wimbledon was the first event to be broadcast on television in colour, and was the cover story on 29 June 1967.


1. The Royal Baby
2. Summer heat wave
3. Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win
4. The Apprentice
5. London 2012 Olympics
6. State of the economy
7. Benefit scroungers
8. Coronation Street
9. The Ashes
10. Petrol prices
11. Traffic
12. Nelson Mandela
13. NHS/Health
14. Tour de France
15. Glastonbury
16. Football transfers
17. X-Factor
18. Big Brother
19. Gay Marriage
20. Exchange rates