Moving to Learn

Child Sustainability – How technology addictions are killing our children, and what to do about it

Boy using tablet 800 x 367

An 8 year old child was explaining how he got his “life” back after being killed when playing Grand Theft Auto V video game, and relayed he had to pick up a prostitute in his car, take her to an alley, watch the car “jump up and down”, and then he got his life back. Three 7 year old boys were “humping” a girl on the playground at recess, and when asked what they were doing, reported “I don’t’ know”. Two ten year olds were standing by the road, and when a car drove by, thrust their hips repeated as the car passed; a girl of same age stood by watching. What is disturbing about all 3 of these scenarios, is that these children were unknowingly engaging in sexual acts, and in the last two cases, acting out sexually toward or with little girls. Grand Theft Auto V just released a new version which allows first person sexual experiences, significantly increasing the ‘immersion factor’, and hence the risk of addiction. Never before in the history of humankind have we witnessed child addictions, yet studies report 1 in 11 children between the ages of 8 – 18 years are addicted to video games and/or pornography (Gentile 2011). One in three children now enter school developmentally delayed (HELP EDI Mapping 2009/13, Hutrow 2014), one in four are obese (Tremblay 2009), and one in six have a diagnosed mental illness (Waddell 2007). Children today have never been sicker, largely due to technology addictions, posing immediate risks to their very sustainability on this planet. Yet choices made today in homes, schools, and communities, continue to escalate unrestricted use of technology, ensuring many of today’s children will grow up without attaining  the necessary skills for survival (health, relationships, work). This article will profile the present status of our homes, schools, and communities in achieving child health and safety, and propose a variety of initiatives in these 3 sectors to help get humanity back on track toward ensuring sustainable futures for all children.

Problem Area Present Status Proposed Interventions
Technology Overuse Habitual tech overuse – family addictions.
Violent content – aggression, video game addiction.
Sexual content – porn addiction.
Fast paced content – attention deficit.
Social media content – anxiety, addiction.
Reduce the use of tech:

  • family meeting; parents start with themselves 1st
  • create “no tech” sacred times
  • establish red, yellow, green zones
  • adhere to Technology Usage Guidelines
Physical Health Sedentary – obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack. Increase pursuit of healthy activities.
Mental Health Isolated, detached – depression, anxiety, autism. Put down tech; pick up/play with kids.
Parenting Style Anxious parents – creating dependence.
Neglectful parents – increased child injuries.
Parenting courses.
Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation Prevalent exposure – risk of cancer, cardiac disorders, DNA fragmentation, cellular disruption. Turn wifi off at night, use Ethernet; restrict all devices from bedrooms, restrict handheld devices from children < 12 years of age.
Technology Overuse Reliance on tech displaces the basics – illiteracy.
One pad per child – children with adhd, detachment disorders, social phobias, autism, and aspergers should use less tech.
No handheld devices for children < 12 years; prohibit personal devices.
Determine who, what, when, where, why, and how of education tech usage.
Physical Health Inadequate recess – weak core, poor motor coordination, poor printing and reading skill, insufficient movement to be able to learn.
Inadequate playgrounds – low challenge, poor drive to succeed.
Increase recess durations; hire PE teachers.Improve playgrounds, especially for children ages 7-18 years.
Mental Health Crowded, noisy classrooms – chaos; no management.
Techie teachers – no human connection.
Indoor instruction – no attention restoration.
Reduce classroom numbers.
Teachers teach; devices entertain.
One class per day outside.
Attention & Learning No executive function – impulsive, irrational, reactionary, no empathy, don’t listen, can’t process Outdoor schools for severe behavior and learning disabled children.
RF Radiation Prevalent exposure – risk of cancer, cardiac disorders, DNA fragmentation, cellular disruption. Remove wifi, use Ethernet; ban all handheld devices from school property.
Poor Health Lack of funds for civic infrastructure to promote healthy activities – families stay inside on tech. Use education and health government funding for free recreation and bus passes, and to build exciting and challenging playgrounds.
Poor Playgrounds Licensing and fear of litigation limitations – infantile playgrounds. Set minimum standards and provide age appropriate playgrounds.
Media Addictions Liberal access to violent/sexual media content – fuels addictions. Block online access to videogame and porn sites; see Korea, England
RF Radiation Prevalent exposure – risk of cancer, cardiac disorders, DNA fragmentation, cellular disruption. Create wifi free zones in and surrounding facilities that service children under 12 year of age. Designate wifi free public spaces.

© Zone’in Programs Inc. December 2014; please email for additional information.

 Click Here to view as pdf.

Cris Rowen

Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi, SIPT

Cris Rowan is a biologist, pediatric occupational therapist and sensory specialist with expertise in the impact of technology on child development, behaviour and learning. Having worked in school settings for over 3 decades, Cris is committed to improving student health while also easing the job of learning for children. Cris is a well-known international speaker and author to teachers, parents and therapists globally on topics of sensory integration, learning, attention, fine motor skills and the impact of media content including video games, social media and pornography on children’s brain and body development. Cris has a BSc’s both in Occupational Therapy and in Biology, is a SIPT certified sensory specialist, and has Approved Provider Status for CEU provision with the American Occupational Therapy Association. Over the past 3 decades, Cris has provided over 350 keynotes and workshops, writes monthly articles for her blog Moving to Learn, publishes the monthly Child Development Series Newsletter, and is designer and creator of Reconnect Webinars which offer research evidenced information for teens, parents, teachers and clinicians to manage balanced between screens and healthy activities. Cris is member of the Screens in Schools committee with Fairplay for Kids, member of the Institute for Digital Media and Child Development and sits on the Board of Directors for the Global Alliance for Brain and Heart Health. Cris has two adult children, Matt and Katie who grew up without screens.

Cris can be reached at Reconnect Webinars offers a free, 5.5-hour CCAP accredited Screenbuster Program training webinar for teens which qualifies them to perform Tech Talks for their peers. The Screenbuster Program requires one counsellor, teacher or principal to complete the 3-day Balanced Technology Management certification CEU provided course in order to adequately supervise the teens.

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