While the time focused on their offspring still comes in at a fairly low average of 35 minutes a day for working fathers, it is far higher than the five minutes registered in 1974. Mothers' quality time with their kids has also risen over the same period, from 15 minutes a day to an hour.
But while it would seem to be good news for children, the researchers found a worrying social disparity over how that extra time is spent. More educated parents were far more likely to report spending time helping their children with homework, while parents without further or higher education were less likely to get involved in any kind of learning activity.
The research, by Dr Almudena Sevilla of the school of business and management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville, used parent and child time diaries between 1974 and 2005 and looked at how parents divided heir time between work, leisure and childcare over a 24-hour period.
Sevilla said the research, to be presented at the ESRC Research Methods Festival this month, showed that, while the extra time given by mothers was coming out of their leisure time or time doing housework, fathers were finding more time out from their working lives, indicating more appreciation of the importance of fatherhood versus a career.
However, Sevilla said the main implication of the findings was about inequality. "If more educated parents are spending more time with their kids in valuable activities for their development, then children will be doing well. But what do you do about the children whose parents are not spending their time in these kind of educational activities? That's the question for policy makers I think.
"With this data we couldn't tell the impact on child development, but other research has been done that suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better for cognitive development."
Image: Father helping son with his homework, via Shutterstock