Nearly half the parents of school-age children (48 percent) feel the internet is just as important as traditional resources for their child's learning, according to a study by ISP BT openworld.

"[Computers] are a very powerful and motivating tool for children," said the BBC's education executive, Karen Johnson. "[They provide the child with] certain independence while also making the learning very safe and tailored."

Almost half (45 percent) the 549 parents questioned thought the internet was a better learning tool than TV. But Johnson thinks they should be used in conjunction with one another.

"TV can tell you stories, deal with conflicting viewpoints, personal and social issues and inspire you," said Johnson. "The web can give you feedback on your individual answers and can allow you [to work at] your own pace."

"An ideal situation is to have a teacher or a parent with all of the media at their disposal. You can't read a screen in the bath but you can a book. You can listen to audio on the move but (in most cases) cannot walk round with a [child]-sized computer," added Johnson.

The internet has undeniably developed into a valuable learning tool. "There are things that online learning offers that other media doesn't, such as marking your test and giving instant feedback, all of which can be done at the user’s own pace and with a high degree of privacy, which is very important to less confident learners," said Johnson.

But, according to the Department for Education and Skills, in many cases computer learning is compromised by poorly trained staff and parents.

"Online learning is an excellent addition to in-class learning - providing both parents and teachers understand how to use PCs effectively and are there to help children as human interaction cannot be replaced," said a DfES spokesman.

The DfES website offers help for parents with specific questions relating to the National Curriculum.

"Online has the potential to bring [media] together . . . so you have a wide range of different learning experiences on your desktop," said Johnson.

Since 1998, £657m of government funding and around £230m of lottery cash has been invested in computers for schools, according to Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education) .