The increasing amount of time children are spending on computers at home and school has raised questions about how the use of computer technology may make a difference in their lives–from helping with homework to causing depression to encouraging violent behavior. This article provides an overview of the limited research on the effects of home computer use on children’s physical, cognitive, and social development. Initial research suggests, for example, that access to computers increases the total amount of time children spend in front of a television or computer screen at the expense of other activities, thereby putting them at risk for obesity. At the same time, cognitive research suggests that playing computer games can be an important building block to computer literacy because it enhances children’s ability to read and visualize images in three-dimensional space and track multiple images simultaneously. The limited evidence available also indicates that home computer use
Many lines of data, initial epidemiologic studies as well as subsequent extensive experimental studies, indicate that early-life events play a powerful role in influencing later suceptibility to certain chronic diseases. Such events might be over- or undernutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, but also changes in hormones, in particular stress hormones. Typically, those events are triggered by the environmental challenges of the mother. However, recent studies have shown that paternal environmental or nutritional factors affect the phenotype of the offspring as well. The maternal and paternal environmental factors act on the phenotype of the offspring via epigenetic modification of its genome. The advanced fetal programming hypothesis proposes an additional non-environmentally driven mechanism: maternal and also paternal genes may influence the maturating sperm, the oocyte, and later the embryo/fetus, leading to their epigenetic alteration. Thus, the observed phenotype of the offspring may be altered by maternal/paternal genes independent of the fetal genome.