Modern technology can drive families living together further apart, according to a leading expert in the education and welfare of children. Earlier this week, British Telecom (BT) published the results of a survey which suggested parents believe the internet, and other technologies, improves family life.

Sue Palmer , author of Toxic Childhood: how the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it, told Tech.co.uk: "Modern communication technology tends to come between people who live together.

"It's wonderful for keeping people in touch when they're physically, geographically apart," says Palmer, "but it can be seriously bad for the parents and children in the 0 - 18 age range which is, on the whole, when lives and personalities are formed."

Palmer went on to explain how her relationship with her daughter while they were living together was often tested by the internet and mobile phones, but said she loves the ease with which she can now send messages to her since she left home.

The BT survey said parents thought the net had improved their children's school grades. It also said 63 per cent of those surveyed found the net made it easier to bear the heartache of children leaving home.