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Warning over kids' gadget obsession

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A growing number of infants and toddlers are playing with expensive gadgets at home, often without the knowledge of their parents, a survey suggests.

Experts warned parents may face the risk of unnecessary home insurance claims if they leave costly items such as computers and smartphones and HDTV sets within the reach of small children.

A survey by home insurance provider Legal and General shows one in 10 children as young as six months old play with laptops and tablet computers.

Two in three youngsters aged between six months and two years think of these computing devices as toys.

Around a fifth of 2,000 parents have found out their children made calls and sent text messages on smartphones, and one in 10 youngsters downloaded apps without parental knowledge.

Fathers are more likely than mothers to allow children to amuse themselves with technology with 36% saying they are not very troubled when youngsters play with the gadgets, compared with just 23% of women.

Mike Lawler, from Legal and General, said: "We are increasingly bringing new and often expensive pieces of technology into our homes, which if left within reach, can be very tempting for a child to then play with. While smartphones and HD TVs can help to keep children entertained, we need to be watchful to protect these expensive items and also those little fingers."

© Press Association 2011