Gadgets: bad for babies and terrible for teenagers?

Kindle Fire lifestyle
Stop! You're creating a monster!

Bad news for parents: your gadgets will eat your children's brains and turn them into something even more horrible than George Osborne.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but some experts believe that children staring goggle-eyed at gadgets could be seriously bad for their health.

According to The Guardian, "A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm." The first three years are the worst, apparently, and some specialists suggest that three-year-olds shouldn't be allowed any screen time whatsoever.

If you're thinking that you've heard it all before, you're right - but that doesn't mean gadgets make the best babysitters either.

It's all about balance

You already know about RSI - some of you, like me, have the surgery scars to prove it - but the real danger is much sneakier. As Professor Lynne Murray of the University of Reading told The Guardian, "Screen media could be a marker of a more generally unhealthy lifestyle that needed to be talked about by health practitioners".

Kids need exercise, and if they're spending too much time on screens they're probably not getting enough - and chances are that we aren't either, because it's estimated that some 40% of men and 28% of women aren't getting sufficient exercise.

That's a killer, quite literally: there are strong connections between a sedentary lifestyle and type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, various cancers and strokes.

Thankfully the really scary stuff, such as gamers dropping dead from Deep Vein Thrombosis, is relatively rare - although if you're prone to marathon multiplayer sessions, please do read Eurogamer's article about it. However, tech can still take its toll.

As a geek parent I'm a paid-up member of the Gadgets Are Great club, and I think tech can be great for teenagers and tots alike. The trick, as with most things, is to get the balance right. If your kids are trying to pinch and zoom their picture books, you should probably give the screens a break.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.