Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012). Handheld devices (cell phones, tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased the accessibility and usage of technology, causing escalating usage, especially by very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist is calling on parents, teachers, and government to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years. Following are ten research evidenced reasons for this ban. Please visit zonein.ca to view the Zone’in Fact Sheet for referenced research.

  1. Rapid brain growth
    Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by over exposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to negatively affect executive functioning, and cause attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity, and decreased ability to self-regulation e.g. tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).
  2. Delayed Development
    Technology use restricts movement, resulting in delayed development. One in three children now enter school developmentally delayed, negatively impacting on literacy and academic achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement enhances attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008). Use of technology under the age of 12 years, is detrimental to child development and learning (Rowan 2010).
  3. Epidemic Obesity
    TV and video game use correlates with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children who are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). One in four Canadian, and one in three U.S. children are obese (Tremblay 2011). 30% of children with obesity, will develop diabetes, and be at risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely shortening life expectancy (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). Due to obesity, 21st century children may be the first generation many of whom will not outlive their parents (Professor Andrew Prentice, BBC News 2002).
  4. Sleep Deprivation
    60% of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage, and 75% of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are detrimentally impacted (Boston College 2012).
  5. Mental Illness
    Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).
  6. Aggression
    Violent media content causes child aggression (Anderson 2007). Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today’s media. Grand Theft Auto V portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture, and mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows. The U.S. has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk due to causal impact on child aggression (Huesmann 2007). Media reports increased use of restraints and seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled aggression (Vancouver Sun 2013).
  7. Digital dementia
    High speed media content causes attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004, Small 2008). Children who can’t pay attention, can’t learn.
  8. Addictions
    As parents attach more and more to technology, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children attach to devices, resulting in addiction (Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentlie 2009). Never in the history of humankind have there been child addictions.
  9. Radiation emission
    In May of 2011, the World Health Organization classified cellphones (and other wireless devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission (WHO 2011). James McNamee with Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary warning stating “Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can’t say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child” (Globe and Mail 2011). In December, 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health recommend that based on new research, radio frequency exposure should be reclassified as a 2A (probable carcinogen), not a 2B (possible carcinogen). American Academy of Pediatrics requested review of EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing 3 reasons regarding impact on children (AAP 2013).
  10. Unsustainable
    The ways in which children are raised and educated with technology are no longer sustainable (Rowan 2010). Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology.  A team based approach is necessary and urgent in order to reduce the use of technology by children. Please reference below slide shows on www.zonein.ca under Media Videos and share with others who are concerned about technology overuse by children.

Problems – Suffer the Children – 4 minutes

Solutions – Balanced Technology Management – 7 minutes

The following guidelines for technology use by children and youth were developed by Cris Rowan pediatric occupational therapist and author of Virtual Child, Dr. Andrew Doan neuroscientist and author of Hooked on Games and Dr, Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program and author of Video Games and Your Kids, with contribution from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society in an effort to ensure sustainable futures for all children.

Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth

Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth6

Please click on image to enlarge.


348 thoughts on “Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12

  1. May I update this discussion?
    “Why thank you”
    It’s parents decisions that are to blame.
    It’s a family matter that’s been lost long ago, and forcing us into survival mode. While some parents are walking a high five attitude with their families
    thinking everything is perfect… the more attentive parents aren’t doing this because anything can happen, and they always keep this in mind.
    Technology isn’t the problem. It’s us!!
    Want a wake up call? Here it is..
    A perfect example of what we’ve missed is the political atmosphere.
    People as young as 18 are canceling other people just because of their political views. Soon you have thousands of your offspring ruining somebody’s life just because of views
    that they don’t connect with.
    It’s called liberalism, and or democratic delusion, and may I add to this… not planning ahead (educationally)…yes you are about to cancel me… guess what I planned ahead,?and so has my family.
    This issue with upbringing is a parents
    responsibility, and that responsibility starts with that image you see in the mirror.

    1. Well said. A continuation of this discussion might include why some parents are addicted to their phones to the point where they are neglecting their children and family responsibilities. Fear of intimacy from family dysfunction is an underlying component of addiction which can be transferred down generations of family members. We could approach this issue with a “generational healing” model e.g. parents reach out to grandparents to begin the long process of healing old wounds.

  2. Hi there, great article! Moving with technology is great and I’m not against it. but there are those instances where I don’t recommend video games. In a case like, mom is busy, maybe she’s a working mom and therefore lets the kids play video games throughout the day to keep them busy. It’s good to control what the kids do. Too much of it will make the kids not to be creative when it comes to thinking since all their mind is glued to games. It’s also good to let kids play outside with their friends. I tend to think kids who play with their friends will be more creative than kids watching games.
    I also think It can delay speech unlike in playful kids. Although in some cases it slightly helps, but its always good to control time spent in handheld devices.

  3. In the United States it is against the Kaw for a Minor to;

    1) Buy and Possess Alcohol and Tobacco;
    2) Frequent Adult themed Business, (I.e. Bars that sell alcohol and Nudity themed businesses);
    3) Enter R-rated Movies.

    Why is that? To prevent a Minor from being exposed to Adult Level Topics that a Minor’s Mental Maturity CANNOT PROCESS.



    This is why we have Young People committing violent crimes and involved in drug and sex trafficking.


    1. Hi Dad,

      Salient question is even if there were a law which made it illegal to give or allow minors unrestricted access to the internet, how would govt enforce this law while respecting family privacy? Love your (and others) continued dialogue on this issue.


    2. The parents should allow their kids to access what they approve, putting this law in place would not only be a violation of multiple privacy acts, and nearly impossible to enforce. And with VPNs, and its growing user base, there would be no point in creating this. COPPA is also a huge barrier.

  4. These children are getting dependent on such devices for entertainment, and they cannot get enough of it. If we take these away from them, then we are stealing their mode of relaxation.

  5. Tɦe reason why there іs a connection between the cause and еffect will bе ʏour thesis statement.
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  6. In my opinion it can affect kids and its the parents job to make sure that their kids are not affected.Also please don’t take this the wrong way but a bunch of ya’ll and other people are contradicting what each other is saying

  7. Nothing in this opinion-based article should be banned. Parents decide what they think is best for their children, and their kids turn out based on their beliefs.

    1. Not necessarily ,not everything that parents do or believe is for the better outcome of their kids,because in reality some parents don’t care what their kids do.

  8. Hello Cris Rowan,
    I am currently doing a thesis paper on the bad effects technology has on children. Here is a condensed paragraph of my paper so far. I have actually used two of your works for my research and I have seen that you comment on many of the comments so maybe you could give me some advice.
    While there may be many reasons why technology is good for children, but there are more bad effect to counteract each good reason. For example, parents give their children phones so that parents can keep track of where there children are or children can use the phone to call for emergencies. Phones also allow children to interact and communicate with each other. To counteract this, children stay attached to their phones and become lazy. Children no longer want to go out and enjoy the things we once did a child. This causes them to become obese and also causes their body to become hunched from staying bent over all day. And to think about it, technology has allowed the deaf to hear and the blind to see. But for those who were born without these abnormalities, headphones cause partial deafness and straining of the eyes from staring at screen cause weakened sight. Parents should be well aware of the harmful effects of technology before giving their children phones or iPads to play with.

    Thank you for your time.

  9. I read, only today, your article in the Huffpost ’10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12′. Even though it is initially two years old, I think it is still relevant.
    I currently work in a secondary school in the UK and this year’s new starters, the boys particularly, are atrocious to manage, in particular very few can deal with a fifty minute lesson and remain on task, in spite of videos, graphics and other tools that were not available in the seventies when I was at school, where sitting and listening were expected behaviours.
    Also, a friend’s daughter has just started training as a primary teacher and was quite appalled at the numbers of children whom cannot hold a pencil. The school even has braces, a device that assists in holding a pencil, for children that have only drawn and coloured on an electronic device using the index finger.
    I have read some of the rebuttals to your article, and although they do have some valid points they do come across in much the same way as antivaxers.
    Good luck in your campaign. ( From my handheld, and rather addictive device.)
    Ron Wild

    1. Thank you for your support. Over half the workshops I do are for teachers, and the stories I hear are alarming, especially regarding aggression over handhelds. Wrestling phones out of children’s hands due to inappropriate use (porn, video games, texiting, facebooking) has become a nightmare. With dubious benefit and huge risk, EdTech is now ‘under the gun’ as a learning tool.

      You might be interested in my most recent blog post on Game Transfer Phenomena (link below) on why we are witnessing increased aggression in homes, schools and community.


      Thank you again.

  10. On December 21 2015, you published a post by Chris Rowan entitled 10 Reasons Why Handheld Units Should be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/10-reasons-why-handheld-devices-should-be-banned_b_4899218.html?). As you are aware, a number of additional blogger sites picked up the story and continued with this important conversation, and I would like to thank you for bringing more light to this growing problem.

    Your article was forwarded to me by a parent friend of mine in Washington D.C., and in his email he went on to express his growing concern around the method and pace his two daughters were being introduced to the wireless world. I know from my own life, that he is not alone and many parents across the US, North America, and the World are struggling with these very questions.

    The article struck a particular cord with me, and touches on a problem we are attempting to address at my work (Otono Networks), where we are launching the first fully integrated kid-lines. Krew Mobile (launching in March 2016 in the US) is a service that addresses the precise concerns Ms. Rowan describes, and uses her approach of small incremental time allotments to introduce kids to wireless.

    Like it or not, the Internet and wireless communications have become so pervasive and foundational in today’s society, that simply barring children from access seems both ineffective and impractical, if not harmful to their development. In a world where we rely on instant communication and expect, nay assume, general internet literacy, is it feasible, or even advisable, to expect that children under 12 can/will stay clear of such temptations? Likely not.

    So where does that leave us? Looking for a technology solution that helps parents introduce children to the world of wireless technology, while protecting them from the variety of risks. Easy enough, you might say, there are a myriad of technology solutions that offer parental control (apps, kids cell phones etc. ). But what we have found is that these solutions become quite cost prohibitive for large swaths of the population once applied as intended (especially if you look at the total cost of ownership – including the cost of airtime and parental data requirements), and most only offer monitoring type control or post hoc lists. Very few offer prophylactic solutions that help parents keep children from trouble in the first place.

    This becomes a particularly interesting problem for me as both a concerned and engaged adult, but also as a Telecom executive, that has spent the better part of his career peddling cellular technologies. In my defense, no one expected the path smartphones have taken, and certainly no one expected how quickly our youngest generations would adopt and master these technologies. In any event, my industry is now a prime player in the struggle to protect our children.

    In her article, Ms. Rowan advocates limited time allowances for younger children being introduced to wireless devices. With that in mind, I am proud to report that Otono Networks (f.k.a. Roam Mobility) has actually taken this problem to heart. We believe that the best way to introduce kids to wireless technology is not by banning access. We also recognize that supervised use is often impractical and can lead to kids feeling untrusted. For these reasons, we decided that parents needed to be able to activate and deactivate their kids phones in small increments remotely (ideally from their device directly).

    Once we understood that this feature was evolutionary and revolutionary in the cellular industry, we built an entire prepaid, non-contract service for families around it called Krew Mobile. However we also recognize that parents using this service shouldn’t have to pay for regular monthly service (after all, the kids were only ‘dabbling’ in the service). So we included the price of two kids’ lines into every parent line ($39 USD), and of course the parent gets Unlimited Talk and Text and 2 GB of Data. In and of itself, the best deal in prepaid wireless.

    Given the state of the economy (both North and South of the border), we recognized that you this is simply too important to try and price gauge customers. To that end, we are committed to keeping Krew Mobile accessible to all budgets).

    The core Krew Mobile offering is to provide 3 lines with parental activation/deactivation control for a market leading $39. However, we also that to be competitive we need to provide all the bells and whistles parents and kids need. So instead of just building in the standard features, we are asking parents to help us build the service from the ground up.

    We have just launched a Krew Pilot Program, where parents can sign up to free or dramatically discounted service and are providing feedback on the product development roadmap. We are partnering with organizations across the US to engage with parents and teachers, and collect as much feedback as possible.

    The pilot will stat in March, but sign ups have been overwhelming thus far. Turns out we aren’t the only ones that take this seriously……

    If anyone want to check out the program, or sign up to be a “Krew Test Pilot”, go to http://www.krewmobile.com

    If we work together, we can create a service that give kids the freedom to explore the Internet and wireless, and give parents peace of mind.

    I genuinely hope that you and your readers find this helpful. Happy to provide any more info.
    Please keep up the great work!

  11. Thank you for writing the article “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices should be Banned for Children Under 12” in 2014. I have two daughters, one 3 years old and one 6 months. I’ve worked very hard to limit tv/iphone/ipads from my 3 year old. I feel like it is a constant battle when I am with certain family members, they constantly want to hand the phone over to her, with the excuse being that “how will she function in society if she is not technology savy”. I really don’t think a 3 year old needs to worry about a technology that might be outdated by the time she is an adult. I follow Waldorf philosophy so for me there will be little to no tv until 7 and no handheld devices until 12 thanks to your article. After reading all the rebuttals to your article, I had to write and tell you that there are people out there that support what you wrote. I would love to write more on this but my girls are waking up from their naps!

    1. Hi Nikki,
      Your rules around tech are to be applauded. You are thinking about your children in the long term, and making decisions which will get them there. As to the myth that children need tech in order to succeed, the unfortunate paradox is the more children use tech, especially early on, the less likely they are to develop physical, mental, social, and cognitive skills, much less succeed. Keep up the great work!

  12. I am not a doctor, or scientist. I am in pre nursing school in North Carolina and a mother of 4-year-old girl. Right now, I am on my final research paper for my class, and my topic was how can technology influence our children and how parents should be parenting? Well, I am from South Korea, and everyday, a lot of news about this topic are on TV, and online newspaper. So, I thought this is serious and this should be my topic for my essay. Well, unfortunately I could not find many studies about this topic, and I was so disappointed. However, 2 days ago, I found your article via Huffington Post Korea, and I found your websites and your article on database. I think it is true and there are so many evidence that overuse of technology is very harmful. But we do not know what exactly will happen with our children who will have to have technology in the future, so I think it is very complicated to just say we should go no-tech. So far, as I proceed my research, only thing that i can think about is that if we cannot make the technology disappear, than for our children’s sake, proper and balanced use of devices are required… I think everybody here who read your article, I believe that they are already aware of importance of physical activities, and emotional attachment with parents for babies and children.
    p.s. I have read about article that was about TV cable. that article had the study result from one of the universities and California, and said, since cable system had come out, the number of children who have autism raised from 1/10,000 to 1/100. I believe that it is worse nowadays, but well, we do not have clear evidence that THE SCREEN is the cause of the autism… (well I believe it is..at least huge part of the reasons…)

    p.p.s. Sorry for poor English, I am still working on learning how to write and speak well.

    Have a great day and I appreciate for wonderful source!
    Your journals will be huge part of my final research paper! ( in MLA…haha :))

    1. Interesting what you say about S. Korea. I’m just back from China, who verified internet addiction as a mental health disorder in 2008, and now has over 300 internet addiction centres for children and youth. Portugal recently reported 70% of youth are tech addicted. In N. America we bury our heads in the sand and hope it will not prove as damaging to our children as in other countries? Wishful thinking. It’s not about unplugging kids, although those who have addictions will require a Digital Detox, but rather practicing what I term Balanced Technology Management, where adults manage balance between activities children need to grow and succeed (movement, touch, human connection, nature), with technology. There are over 300 research references cited on my Fact Sheet, under Info section on website http://www.zonein.ca showing detrimental impact of technology on children. Best of luck with your studies.

        1. I was doing a research paper to about childhood obesity and negative effects of video games. I almost changed my topic because it was very hard to find recent studies. I stumbled into this article and everything just lit up. I had my belief that use of technological devices have a huge negative impact to a developing mind, but I could not reference my thoughts! I am glad I found this article. I also shared it to my family through facebook. I hope they all find time to read it because I can feel the effects of it to some children in our family. Thanks to you Chris Rowan. I hope that people will get out of the shell and realize that there’s a whole world to explore, rather than looking at pictures and videos of the world at the tip of their hands only.

          1. Here’s a new one. Some of the kids I’ve been working with are telling me that instead of playing video games, instead they just watch others play games on you tube.

        2. Dear Cris,

          I’m a British Occupational Therapist researching the use of handheld computers in children’s OT practice, with Brunel University London. I would be interested in reading your paper, written in 2010. I cannot find the reference list for your webpage article ‘Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12’.

          Thank you in advance for your time and kind consideration,

          1. Hi Melanie,

            I will email you my article, and the references are located on my Fact Sheet on http://www.zonein.ca under Info section. I’m currently supervising an OT post-doc student from Calif. who is investigating level of knowledge of OT’s on the subject of impact of technology on children. I will also give you her contact info in email.

            Best of luck with your research!


  13. How can I find the full references for the Christakis (2004) and Small (2008) studies which were cited in your “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12” article under the subheading “7. Digital dementia”.

  14. Cris Rowan,

    Hello i am doing a research paper for a class i am currently taking about this subject and i was wondering if you could please send me the pdf file and if i could ask you a few questions on this topic and use you as one of my sources.

    Hope to hear soon from you

  15. Thank you Cris for teaching about this important topic. Our whole family became electrically sensitive from living in a home with too much wi-fi and cordless phone radiation and driving electric cars. Before the electrical sensitivity became obvious we lived with years of worsening health and cognition problems (food allergies, heart palpitations, autoimmune and digestive problems, ADHD symptoms) inspite of an increasingly healthy diet. We had to move homes, change cars and change schools to lessen the load on our systems. Our health was restored when we got away from the wireless radiation and the ADHD type cognitive and focus issues we were experiencing went away. My children were addicted to video games even though we limited screen time, they rushed through the rest of their activities to get on their screens or sneaked on them. Now they have full, busy, mindful lives and are engaged with the rest of the world. Electro hypersensitivity is a fast growing problem and it is debilitating. Even though it is hard to live with, we are glad we became sensitive enough to recognize the cause before we had cancer or worse. More parents need to learn about this to prevent this happening to their children and themselves.

  16. “I really enjoyed this article. But for me as a parent to 3 lovely kids age ranges between 2 to 8 years old. I much more like them to stay at home rather than going outside and running around streets and meeting strangers that will cause dangers to them. Of course we admit that Tablets and smartphones can cause dangers too but is more far from getting abducted, raped and so on. I have introduced them to advance technology as this is a part of our society now and every kid as I believed should be entitled to know more about it since in this generation it is a big plus for kids now who knows technology and eventually use it for the future. All parent should do is know how to control and limit their playing time. And base on my research while struggling to limit my kids playing games on tablets and smartphones I have landed to a very helpful to all that limit what time they can use the tablet, control them and at the same time help them study mathematics. This Screenshot Ninja helps us parents to monitor them while we are busy working. So when their play time expires and they still want to play more they have to solve mathematics problem to gain more. Yeah its fantastic! As I have seen my daughters passionately solving it to gain more play time credits even my 3 year old daughter is asking me, “”MOMMY what’s the answer to 2+7?”” and I let her count and then all I know is that my daughter can solve math now. 😀

    Here’s the wonderful app’s link: http://bit.ly/screentimeninja

    1. No argument about keeping kids safe, but at what risk? Growing up bubble wrapped, while comforting for the parents, is boring for kids, and lacks in opportunities for skill building, socialization, motor development, sensory processing, and just about everything that will ensure future success in every aspect of life (relationships, employment, etc).

      You sound so excited that your child can use an app. What about getting excited that they can ride a bike over to their friends, walk to school, ride a bus? These are important skills to build confidence. An important forgotten job of the parent is to grow children in such a way that they have the independence, knowledge, and skills to move out of the home and into their own life. Half of North American young adults 20-30 years are living with their parents.

      Again…I state that the ways in which we are raising and educating our children with technology are not sustainable.

  17. We have a 2 year old (3 next month) that was allowed unrestricted access to the iPAD and iPhone from birth. We thought it was great that he could navigate the iPAD at 8 months of age, use the TV control by 10 months of age, and play video games by a year and a half. He was subsequently diagnosed with autism, hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Our dauther had the same access and she has some delays but is not autistic, not obese and has great social skills – but never played like my son did. She would play a minute or two then move on to her toys. With speech, OT, ABA and sports (20-30 hours a week total) my son is coming out of his autistic cloud, is less violent, and is in great shape. It has taken 6 months to bounce back and he still has a ways to go. I am a physician with a PhD in Neuroscience, graduating at the top of my class at a prestigous medical school yet I missed the boat. In fact if you search iPAD and Autism all you get are articles on how great the iPAD and iPHONE apps are for treating this disorder. Very misleading. Reducing the use of technology has played a key role in his recovery; I think he is much more interactive since he has to be. I’d like to know your guidelines for TV and movies, time limits and what content in general is good and bad.

    1. You are a wise and exceptionally brave Mom to have seen that attachment to a device, detaches a child from humanity e.g. autism. There is no known genetic or biomarkers of any kind for any mental illness, yet health and education professionals insist on perpetrating this myth that mental illness is a disease. Cancer is a disease; mental illness is the result of failed primary attachment with parent(s). As parents attach to devices, they detach from children, and as a default, children form unhealthy attachments to their own devices. The result is a host of problematic behaviors the health and education system conveniently call mental illness. A systemic problem has now been individualized, and children are the scapegoat.

      Technology Usage Guidelines are located at bottom of my website http://www.zonein.ca. Generally speaking, handhelds are off limits until 12 years of age due to impossible for parents to manage usage. Anti-social media (violence and porn) should be restricted until 18 years of age, as it is highly addictive and presently have 1 in 11 children aged 8-18 years tech addicted. Fast-paced cartoons should be prohibited at all times, as are causing frontal lobe atrophy and attention deficit. Pro-social media (no violence, slower paced) should be prohibited 0-2 years, allowed 1 hour per day 3-5, and 2 hours per day 6-18 years. Children only have one childhood, and that time should be spent creating meaningful interactions and memories. Who has ever saved a picture of kids playing video games? Take them fishing.

      Great work Mom, and thank you for your courage to tell your story.

      Sedentary, isolated, overstimulated, and largely neglected, can the new millennium child survive?

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  19. All this is fine, but I disagree on a few points.
    1) WiFi signals cannot harm the brain.
    2) Technology improves not decreases social skills mostly because it helps a person to connect to the outer world even if he is unable to do it physically. it also allows anyone to know what is going on around the world in the click of a button. When children arent able to express their opinion I. the real world, mostly due to shyness, they are able to do so in the virtual world.
    3) Yes, children do grow obese, but it is not necessary as they can always be taken to a gym or a park and told to play with their age people.
    4) The main problem with technology, and more or less the only one I feel, is eyesight. Because of staring at a computer screen all day, my eyesight went down to -4.5 but is now fine due to practice and excercise of muscles.

  20. I’m sorry but this is bogus. I spent much of my childhood playing video games since I about 5 years old. I was using a Gameboy in preschool and I had a GameCube in Kindergarten. Since then, I have had every sort of system there has been. I spent entire weekends playing video games in my pajamas and loved every minute of it. I am now 19, have a very impressive resume for a kid my age, played basketball throughout school, and never weighed over my current weight of 150 lbs. I graduated from my high school with a 3.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale and now attend college where I am studying to be an Air Traffic Controller. Video Games didn’t destroy my life. Technology helped me coupe with the fact that I was the odd kid in school. It helped my connect with my brother. I agree that technology could be a part of your 10 problems, but parenting is the main factor in this. If this current generation of parents would own up to the responsibility of raising their kids themselves and not blame every new trend that comes along, we could have some progress. Excuse the opposite view of your article but there is more to these problems then what you are claiming.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Violent online video games are extremely addictive due to immersion, socialization, and intermittent rewards, and hence the recommendation for parents to restrict use. Presently 1 in 11 children ages 8-18 years are addicted to some form of technology (video games, porn, texting, facebook). The consequences of child addiction are devastating, and not only impact the individual and family, but also society. In the US 62% of adults 20-24 years live with their parents. While some are doing post-secondary, many are in the basement addicted to video games and porn. These tech addictions are serious, and expensive to treat, and are going to break an already depleted medical system. As tolerance builds, the stimuli increases, with many youth turning to more deviant porn (children) and prostitution. In the past five years, Trafficking In Persons has exploded, with average age dropping now to 12 years. These children are trafficked and exploited to meet the increasing demand for pornography and prostitution.

      This is our reality.

  21. Can you tell me please, why you refer to the device not the content? That is, why is a laptop/desktop computer gaming is not as detrimental as a handheld device?

    Lack of sleep, (whether due to handheld devices, tv or parent disengagement) is a huge problem in learning though and I think this is not sufficiently equalised/controlled in some of these studies to make the outcomes useful.

    I’d love to see research on that aspect – with students given an absolute bedtime (and no access to any devices once in bed!) giving them 10 to 11 hours sleep and seeing the difference between that and kids getting 7 or 8 (as many of my 9 year old’s classmates do!) I know mine becomes behaviourally monstrous if he is lacking sleep.

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Survey by Common Sense Media shows tech usage rates have gone up an additional 30% with handheld devices, and these devices are given to children as young as 4 months of age. If they can’t hold them, there are handheld mounts for strollers, infant bucket seats, and even teething rings. Sedentary, isolated, overstimulated, and neglected, the handheld generation’s sustainability is now in question. A 2013 study shows 1 in 3 children enter school developmentally delayed, 1 in 4 obese/overweight, 1 in 6 diagnosed with a mental illness, and 1 in 11 addicted to technology. We have never in the history of humankind witnessed children with addictions.

      Handhelds increase intensity of visual imagery and radiation, as well as duration of use. Not good.

  22. Hello there!

    I took the time out of my life of being a mathematician/computer scientist with a former half decade of experience working with kids (I currently teach kids at a museum, and teach university students now, formerly a childcare assistant). I agree somewhat with the premise that kids shouldn’t be given smartphones and iPads at such a young age, but your categorization of video games is ridiculous to say the least. Your premise relates to DEVICES, not video games; software. Invest some time into reading about technology before presenting pseudo-science to the masses. I have seen numerous studies to the contrary on what you call “violent” video games. Maybe your article should discuss mature video games intended for adults. Many violent games these days can be classified by the ERSB system to be nearly non-violent. Great examples are many Nintendo games aimed for all audiences, and may have comic violence; unlike mature games that may contain what you describe.

    I will say you need to take your research a little more seriously here. I got your “article” from my gf who works at a daycare, and this nonsense was given to their staff. You are perpetuating pseudoscience in this article by not properly categorizing the information you are presenting. It is misleading to parents, and references you provide are sometimes unreliable as others here have pointed out. I wanted to give this information to you, so maybe you can revise and present this article without treating video games as handheld devices.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Consider the following two research studies, and then get back to us with your thoughts? May want to also check out our Fact Sheet on http://www.zonein.ca, specifically the aggression and academic sections, which contain over 250 cited research and news articles supporting the initiative to ban handhelds in children under 12 years of age.

      1) Re: fast paced, anti-social cartoons.

      “60 four year olds watched 9 min. of anti-social, fast paced Spongebob cartoon and demonstrated significant decline in cognitive function including memory, concentration and impulse control”. Those who watched pro-social, slow paced Caiou cartoon did not show executive function changes.

      2) Re: violent media and child aggression.

      “The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent videogames is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior”. http://www.scribd.com/doc/120826110/Violent-Video-Game-Effects-on-Aggression-Empathy-and-Prosocial-Behavior-in-Eastern-and-Western-Countries-A-Meta-Analytic-Review


  23. How about the 10 reasons that handheld devices should be available for all children. (Even with wifi turned off)

    1> Educational apps can provide children with fun but also educational practice experience in Math, reading, and writing. There are apps for fractions, time, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc that can help kids of all learning levels and disabilities succeed and learn in a stress free environment.

    2> Children can write, illustrate and publish their own books easily.

    3> Children can watch downloaded Khan Academy educational videos and have the advantage of one of the most amazing teachers at their fingertips at home.

    4> Children can compose their own music using a large number of instruments and create their own sheet music to play with real instruments.

    5> Children who are not old enough to write all the words they can speak can create stories but having their written word dictated into text.

    6> Babies who are too young to speak can show what they want by pointing to different available picture objects listed. This is used with non-verbal kids as well.

    7> Children who need to do spelling tests in French or English can practice using the self-correcting Apps that not only pronounce the words properly (in the case of French) but also sound out the word as the kids spell it, reinforcing the sounds.

    8> Children can create classroom research presentations using Keynote or Prezi rather than hand writing and cut and paste. The digital presentations provide a lot more opportunity for idea expression as children are not hindered by their physical hand writing or other physical skills.

    9> Children can learn Chemistry and the periodic table through apps that let them mix dangerous chemicals in a virtual world they could never do in the real one.

    10> Children can learn about human anatomy and how it works and also animal anatomy with kids apps that let them virtually take apart and examine all the parts of the bodies and watch visually how the parts work together eg digest food etc.

    With handheld devices Children are no longer limited to what they get spoon fed in small doses by teachers and parents, they are no longer limited to the books they can afford, find or read, they are no longer limited by any physical limitations of their handwriting, and they are no longer limited by the restrictions of the concrete.

    In not so many years handheld devices will be the new pencil. The most amazing thing is the learning is unlimited.


    1. There is no doubt that tech has advantages when used in moderation as per expert guidelines e.g. nothing 0-2 years, 1 hr/day 3-5 yrs, 2 hr/day 6-18 yrs, but tech is not being used in moderation, to the tune of 4-6 times the guidelines, and the results have been nothing short of devastating. The “promise” has seemingly overshadowed the “peril”, and parents are now virtually blind to the detrimental impact of tech on their children. Developmental delay, obesity, diabetes, sleep deprivation, attachment disorders (which are conveniently termed mental illness), aggression, tantrums, attention deficit, learning disability, DNA fragmentation, brain tumors….for the vague promise of the few benefits you list above? Technology is an experiment, and is being forced on children by parents and teachers, largely to free up time to connect to their own tech. I’m wondering if parents are already so addicted to technology, that they are unable to make healthy decisions for their own children? If so…then what’s next?


      1. Hi Cris,

        I’d be interested in learning more about your work. Would you be able to email me some of the articles relating to the topic of overstimulation with toddlers? I look forward to reading it.


  24. Kris – Great stuff. I strongly urge you to follow up later with any stats that appear say six months from now (if anyone is monitoring the behavior) to see if the chart needs any tweaking. People need something to go by – and if its something proven, they will be more likely to follow it.

  25. Shalom.

    Thank you so much for writing about the above topic.

    A small comment about the table in the article. I think the entries for Violent video games should be “never” for 13-18 years too. A parent should never approve this.

    All the best.


  26. I am a concerned mom on our District PAC#68 in Nanaimo BC. I have been fighting Wi-Fi in our Schools for about six years now and the Trustees and Superintendent has ignored everything handed to them.

    Could you please send me a copy of this in pdf. so I can hand in yet another package of adverse health effects.

    One day they will listen. I hope.

    Jeanette Pongratz-Doyle

  27. Hi Cris, as a physical educator who values the use of technology to engage students in learning I am concerned with the statement you make in the first paragraph of this article which suggests that we should ‘ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years.’ This statement seems to contradict the recommendations which are suggested by The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics in your article. Do you believe that there should be a complete ban or just restrictions.

    I agree with you that the greater availability and uses of technology such as ipads can have a negative impact on children, especially in regards to their physical activity levels and their social, mental and emotional well-being, but to ban all technology for under 12’s seems radical and ignorant to the benefits that technology can have. In class I use technology to aid my teaching and consequently students’ learning in a variety of ways. Students can record, analyse and assess their own performance, research rules and new ideas, set up activities themselves, record their achievements etc. To restrict the use of technology is something I can understand and advocate but to ban this technology would be take a lot away from their learning experience.

  28. I teach a high school technology class in Dade City, Florida. I saw this article on a link from my Facebook page, and after reading it came up with a way to use it in my classroom. Do I have your permission to duplicate the article and hand out to my kids for a lesson?

    I plan to use Poll Anywhere to have them answer questions about their own personal use of technology, then read the article and afterwards, have a fishbowl debate on the effects of technology on the developing brain, as we view the main points of the article on a Powerpoint slide show.

  29. As a child psychiatrist, I see first hand how screen-time (especially interactive) impacts mood, cognition, and behavior by causing hyperarousal and overstimulation, leading to a dysregulated nervous system. In short, screen exposure repeatedly induces a stress response. This is the mechanism behind all the effects, including physical ones such as obesity and metabolic syndrome. (I call screen-related dysregulation “Electronic Screen Syndrome.”) Parents, clinicians, and educators need to be aware that screen-time causes changes in brain chemistry, networks and blood flow, hormones, sleep patterns, and social interactions.

    The first intervention I do with every patients is to take them off all screens for 3-4 weeks, followed by strict restriction or elimination thereafter. This greatly reduces the need for psychiatric medication, improves concentration, reading and math abilities, reduces mood swings, depression and aggression, and supports healthier social interactions–at home and at school. It truly is a panacea.

    I agree with Cris Rowan on this recommendation. We’re only just discovering the effects of so much screen-time on the developing brain, and evidence is mounting to minimize it as long and as much as possible.

    If you need more convincing read my article on screen-time and brain scan research: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain

    Victoria Dunckley M.D.

  30. I am the mother of a seven-month-old girl. She is my first child, and I am a stay-at-home mom. I have a few questions:

    What resources do you recommend for a baby my age to enhance her development?

    Also, we don’t have TV service, but we have watched some baby Einstein videos with our baby because they appear to be educational. For the last two months we have watched a 30 minute video two times a week on average. The bulk of our time is spent doing hands-on types of play, reading to her, and just giving her general affection. Given that so little if our time us watching the baby Einstein videos, are they really still that detrimental?

    Once they turn two years old, are their any educational videos or programming that is ok?

    Thank you very much!

  31. While there may be some value to what is written in this article I find it to be a real concern regarding the mental illness paragraph that claims hand held devices causes autism. It simplifies and incorrectly allows false assumptions to be made and perpetuated. To say to a parent looking for information regarding autism that hand held devices is a cause can turn out to be very cruel and can result in delaying the reality of what autism is and taking the steps necessary to providing our children with the education, medical and social strategies they need. To present any ideas/statements as more than just an opinion with out the study being reproduced with the same results shown then it needs to be acknowledged that is not proof or proven.
    For anyone making a reference to a study as fact they need to provide the direct links to the actual studies. Parents who are new to learning about what is best for their child challenged with autism should be able to read about a professional’s opinion knowing that it is just that an opinion. Parents should be able to read the actual study so they can determine if there is real merit or simply self-interest that influences the study results. Giving false hope is a terrible thing to do to families dealing with this issue. Has nothing been learned from the Andrew Wakefield and vaccine debacle?

    I have 2 adult sons on the autism spectrum and I have seen more individuals challenged with autism and their families harmed by opinion and unproven statements presented as fact. We need to stop harming these families by presenting wishful thinking, or studies that are from self interest instead of proven and provable facts.

    Each family dealing with the challenge of autism needs to know their child and build a network of family, education, medical and legal professionals that know and understand their child and that will be a continually growing asset to that child. Recognizing the uniqueness of each individual on the autism spectrum will bring greater achievement than listening and following “facts” given by people who have never met your loved one.

      1. I looked at the article from the Huffington post Bristol link. I have been looking at studies, conclusions, results, opinions and participating in studies for 20 years. When results include the words maybe or more likely or suggests then that is a red flag that it isn’t fact. It stated in the Bristol article that it was an opinion that children shouldn’t be exposed to more than 2 hours, did not state how this opinion is based on fact. Someone has that opinion fine but it needs to be made known that it is simply an opinion. Where is the data showing that diet, genetics and environment has been eliminated as cause for the child to have the issues listed in the article? Studies are conducted looking at specific areas so by their very nature are slanted to a specific view. Studies conducted by questionnaire is the most subjective of all because it is depends on the interpretation by the individual answering the question. If someone else fills it out for a person or the question is worded to reflect a view point that also makes the study subjective not fact based. I have filled out many questionnaires that are looking for the same information but because the question is worded differently the answer is not the same. All too often reporting and supporting a specific view fails to make it clear what is fact and what is conjecture.

        1. Actually I do believe the 2 hr recommendation was initially made rather arbitrarily, but since then studies seem to support it. I don’t have the reference at my fingertips but I believe it was Douglas Gentile’s group who conducted a study that found that that less than two hours a day of entertainment screen-time did not seem to affect grades and attention, while more than two hours did. There may be other studies too.

          As Ms. Rowen points out, there are now HUNDREDS of studies implicating screen-time in all sorts of conditions, and some of these show causation–not just association.

          If I find the study I will repost.

  32. I would love to read the article YOU sited and I want to share this article WITH my parents. I need to proofread!

  33. I enjoyed this article thank you for sharing it. I would love to read some of the articles your sited. Can you share the reference list? Also are you able to send me a pdf copy in English & Spanish to share wit my parents. Thank you!

  34. This is an extremist point of view that obviously discounts that intelligent, or rather INVOLVED parents are capable of providing reasonable direction or control…

    I think my parents pondered the same sort of sentiment around “bans” for rock music, TV, and slow dancing. It worked about as well as was depicted in the movie Flashdance.

    What is not addressed is the fact that hand held technology can just as easily replace the time that the previous generation spent watching TV and getting themselves epidemically obese [sic]. It also can produce the next wiz kid that dreams of using technology for social good, and becomes the next Elon Musk, or this guy (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/how-to-build-a-successful-silicon-valley-company-by-age-22-1.2561629).

    I appreciate that the author has exposure to many more children (from differing parenting styles) under the age of 12 than I do… but is it possible that it the role of the parents, and their involvement (or lack thereof) that is the issue… and secondarily an obvious balance that needs to come from other forms of entertainment, activity, or practical exposure? Hand held devices are not the problem; disengaged parents are.

    I notice the author lives in a spectacularly beautiful, and rural part of British Columbia, Canada. I live in Singapore, where congestion, competitiveness, technology are at the extreme opposite from the fresh air, laid back lifestyle and spectacle of mountains that Sechelt, BC offers. Commonplace for my children is riding a crowded subway to their elementary school completing their blogs on the marvels of those mountains in BC from space as witnessed by Chris Hadfield. We don’t watch TV, or subscribe to a newspaper.

    I look for opportunity to expose my children to technology and the marvels and opportunity that it presents in many facets of their development… Handheld technology is one small part of that exposure, and necessary its not, but potentially great it is. I expose them to handheld technology, not to turn them into or even prepare them for the life of an SMS/email-crazed or couch-potato grown-up, but rather because there is merit also in being a risk taker, one who embraces change and opportunity and an exposure to the big, bold universe that sits outside of our current placing. I’m conscious of the risks, but convinced that there are great benefits that come from moderation of this exposure.

    But alas, its also an easy tool to put in their hand and make them shut-up, or let me finish what I’m doing, or to keep them entertained as I’m too busy to watch them, or care to watch them. I suppose I could take that view and wait for the government or some other banning authority that the author is lobbying for to try and make me more responsible…. ? But then the outcome would be the government inserting some sort of a mobile chip into my hand so they can tell whether I’m following the ban.

    I think this article could be a great opening to a 2014 sequel/remake to Flashdance.

    1. You present a generalized opinion regarding technology espoused by many parents and educators, one which I’ve termed “The Tech Illusion” e.g. that technology is the new frontier so to speak, the gateway to success and fame which will bring riches and glory to all. Not so my friend, not so.

      Handhelds will never be banned, in fact they will continue in use until the chip implant, maybe with the google glasses somewhere in between. Then we will all be like characters in the Wall-E movie, lying on lounge chairs that move us about, interfacing with each other only in the virtual sense, not even caring any more about exercise, touch, human connection, or nature. Unfortunately for today’s child, the aforementioned 4 critical factors for optimizing child development and learning, are severely compromised by technology overuse. Leaving what? A child who is obese with diabetes and cardiovascular damage, sleep deprived, can’t pay attention or learn, is depressed, anxious, aggressive, violent, sexually depraved, shall I go on?

      This article is intended to entice people such as yourself, to look at the facts, and understand that there are significant downsides to technology, and to also understand that technology overuse is prevalent in our tech obsessed society. Four years ago we didn’t have handheld devices, now we have come to the opinion that even babies can’t live without them. As parent and teachers attach more and more to their devices, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of human connection and attachment, children cannot survive. We know this, yet are compelled to buy more and more devices for our very young and most vulnerable. Children are our future, yet is there a future in virtual reality?

      As a pediatric occupational therapist and biologist, I encourage managed balance, between technology and healthy activity, termed “Balanced Technology Management”. If children get enough movement, touch, human connection and nature, and stay within the recommended guidelines for tech (nothing 0-2 years, one hour/day 3-5, two hours per day 6-18), then the child will likely grow up to be healthy, happy, have meaningful relationships, and a job. If on the other hand, the child is using our national average of 7.5 hours per day, they are likely to have significant problems. I had two children on my caseload this week alone, one 3 and the other 4 years of age, receive diagnoses of Oppositional Conduct Disorder. These are not bad children, and neither do they have bad parents, but they do use 7-8 hours of tech per day, predominantly on their iPads, and they have explosive violence and tantrums that necessitated being suspended from daycare.

      This article is a wake-up call for parents, educators, health professionals, government, and technology production corporations to take a look at the research on the impact of technology on children, and curtail usage back to American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian Society of Pediatric guidelines. Figure out how to do incorporate more movement, touch, human connection, and nature based activities with children. Build better playgrounds and create outdoor family play spaces…nature trails, parks, things that will sustain our next generation, not destroy it, because the current ways in which we are raising and educating our children with technology are not sustainable.

      Flashdance was an excellent depiction of what every parent wants their child to be – full of grit, determination, and will to create change. Today’s child who overuses technology to escape reality, will never even come close to these traits while they are immersed in the virtual world, devoid of everything they need to evolve as a human beings. The de-evolution of the human species has begun, and everyone seems too enamoured with their devices to even notice, much less care. It’s like were all on this “Tech Train”, soaring off into oblivion at 100 mph, and the kids are falling off, but no one seems to notice. A bit melodramatic? I’m not so sure.

      For more information on this topic, please visit the following:

      1) Book “Virtual Child – The terrifying truth about what technology is doing to children” available on Amazon.com, http://www.virtualchild.ca
      2) Website http://www.zonein.ca:
      – Child Development Series Newsletter – free monthly collated research, news, websites, books, courses
      – Fact Sheet – over 250 summarized research links on impact of technology on children
      – Articles – monthly feature on same
      – Video – check out Reality Check, Suffer the Children (problems) and Balanced Technology Management (solutions)
      – Workshops/Webinars
      3) Blog http://www.movingtolearn.ca

      1. Yes, but if a wake-up call for parents, educators, health professionals, government, and technology production corporations is the purpose of your article, then to suggest through your title that a full scale ban should be imposed (and here’s 10 reasons why)… don’t you think that is melodramatic?

        “Balanced Technology Management” however, is a worthwhile cause…

          1. I don’t think you’ve addressed the concern I’ve raised with your article. I now understand after a few responses by you that you espouse a Balanced Technology Management principle, but your title (in the very least) is very misleading. Your title suggests that nobody is capable of providing Balanced Technology Management and so a banning authority needs to step in.

            I appreciate that you have done much research on the matter, but all that which underlies your research is lost on your extremist hook: [Ten Reasons] why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12.

            Fisher Price’s product is a reason for concern, and your ten reasons listed above are perhaps reasons why parents shouldn’t buy that product. But because Fisher Price makes these products doesn’t mean that society should have to adhere to a full scale ban of all hand held technology for children under the age of 12.

            I’ve come to understand (only thru your follow-up comments to your original post) that you don’t believe in banning hand held technology. Unfortunately, the attention you’ve gained to this article has been by blatantly calling for a ban, which allegedly you don’t support (but rather a balanced technology management approach).

            You are a credentialed authority who at first glance, and holistic readership of your article is calling for legislative action, without prejudice.

            I suggest you clarify this position to the readers, and potential lawmakers who take your article at prima facie and who would act based upon your expert qualifications and opinion to limit civil liberties as a result.

  35. Dear Cris,
    thank you for this article. I’m from Germany and wanted to ask you, whether I could translate your article into German. There are only few well-researched resources about this topic in German, so in my opinion your article would be of great value.
    Greetings from Germany
    Klaus-Peter Kluge

    1. Yes…of course! Possibly we could post your translated article to blog? Regarding translations, my book was recently translated by a university in China, and now available in Chinese.

  36. I read the comments on your post “10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned …..” and I read the comment interchanges. Wow. Communication technology is really amazing, and can be a great tool for adults. And the use of hand-held devices seems like a major addiction in our world. Some of the comments above seem like denial or rationalizing.
    I am in complete agreement with you Cris – I think children under 9 would be best served to have no/zero/none/nil/zed/zip electronic screen media experiences. It does no good and lots of harm. The only benefit is for the parent who gets to have their child entertained and therefore the parent does not connect with the child (a serous developmental loss for the child) and the parent can spend more time on his or her devices.
    It’s a mess, and we are going against the stream to speak out against technology for young children. We have been sold a bill of goods. It is all about technology companies making money and convincing the buyers that it is a good thing and you can’t live without it. And your children can’t live without it.
    I have been an early childhood educator for 25 years. In my experience and observations, it is totally apparent which children are experiencing a lot screen technology. Their play is not out of their own imagination, and boys especially tend to play more violently and aggressive. The girls tend to put on ‘sassy attitude’ and do more exclusionary play.
    Do you know about ‘The Alliance for Childhood.’ Check out their website.
    Also, ‘Touch the Future.’ Also ‘Hands Free Mama.”
    I am on the ‘no tech for young children’ team because I am all about the primary importance of human connection for the development of the young child. Help children develop the capacities they need to be able to be move freely and think for themselves. Then when they are older they will be ready to use the technology tools, not be used by them. My website is http://chamakanda.com/
    Keep up the hard work Cris!!!
    And THANKS.

    1. Great website Steve, and awesome work! Read you were on the Waldorf Board. Can you share what are the rules for technology use for < 12 year olds in Waldorf Schools?

      1. Most Waldorf Schools don’t have “rules” about it, but they do have suggestions and guidelines.
        I always asked kindergarten parents if they would agree to have no technology for their children on school days, and Sunday after dinner. That was a starting place, and throughout the school year I addressed various topics of what adults can do to foster healthy development on all levels. So at least one Parent Meeting per year was devoted to a discussion about electronic media.

  37. Just going back to first principles for a moment – the only things that don’t have brains don’t move (think plants etc.). If we don’t encourage our children to move, it can’t be helpful to healthy brain development.

  38. I spotted something incorrect with this. You mention that grand theft auto 5 has rape in it. I can guarantee to you that this is incorrect, as I have played through the entire game and have played over 150 hours.
    Also, the game is rated 17 and up, so parents shouldn’t even be buying such a game for their children. They should read the rules first rather than assume the game is the problem.

    1. Guess you’re not young enough to find it? See following media story.

      “Schoolchildren as young as SIX ‘re-enacting rape and sex scenes from Grand Theft Auto in playground'”


      In the UK, Iceland, and Scotland, they have banned internet pornography, and now need to apply for access with government, with Prime Minister Cameron stating “Many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very young age,” Mr. Cameron said. “The nature of that pornography is so extreme, it is distorting their view of sex and relationships.”


      Conversation with Dr. Andrew Doan, author of “Hooked on Games” stated regarding GTA V “You don’t rape. You have sex with prostitute BUT can kill her and take her money after sex. You can also kill all the hookers in the game”. Whew! That’s a relief!

      Parents and teachers are shocked when I tell them that 42% of ten year olds are actively using porn. Anytime a child is given a handheld and not supervised, they can access whatever their imagination leads them toward.

      Humans are very visual, and whatever images children view will be with them forever. When children view violent sexual images over and over, this is what the child becomes. One study I read said that adults who view porn on a regular basis, are three times less likely to view rape as rape. Porn desensitizes very young children to view rape as normal.

  39. Fascinating article… As well as the comment section. Chris, I’m wondering what your thoughts are on online public schools, or cyber schools, that are becoming increasingly popular as a homeschooling method?

  40. For a number of years I have been running seminars on understanding and managing children who have learning difficulties and have recommended a drastic cutback in the use of TV/computer games etc. However, recently I have developed an eye exercise iPhone app for use by children (or adults) from about 5yrs of age. The children are required to follow an object on the phone while the phone is being moved. I would appreciated it if you could have a look at it and let me know if you feel that this fits into the negative effects of using hand held technology.

  41. What an obscure conceptualization of technology and its influence on children. Undoubtedly there will be unforeseen consequences in terms of health that we should be cognizant of as that information becomes privy to the masses. However, the upfront explanation that because technology has measurably changed the developmental process of children and that this change is intrinsically bad is all together a radical notion.

    Surely the invention of language drastically changed the developmental process in ways that were beyond understanding at its inception. From that, surely the tools of literacy such as chalk, pencils and books also had a profound impact. The experience with the world became a far more cerebral and introspective with out a doubt.

    It would seem to me there is an implicit value judgement being made here that because external language can seem to be delayed, or that children are putting on weight, or having issues socializing that this is purely in correlation to technology. It is not useful or even desirable to detract children’s exposure to the tools they will use to interact with the world their entire lives.

    The focus here needs to be on two things. The first is that technology inherently changes the nature of how we interact with the world, as that is its purpose. To assert that this is happening is redundant. The second is that creating a technological vacuum for children is antithetic to the reason why we develop technology in the first place.

    If a child is developing differently, the greater question of if that development is empirically bad does need to be assessed; questions can be asked that do not assume it is a completely negative experience.

    1. Are there healthier ways to have a child engage with technology that mitigate what you would consider negative effects? If so, are certain technologies more prone to negative effects? Does that change at certain ages? Does gender identity or sex make a difference?

    2. Is it the physical technology that is inducing negative symptoms or is it a behavior that is promoted by the technology in the absence of external factors? That is to say, is leaving a child to their own devices, pardon the pun the cause, or is using the technology the cause.

    3. Does the definition of physical addiction to technology even make sense for children in the context of immeasurable curiosity?

    4. Are physical health issues a direct result of technological advancement or a lack of a counter measure of putting an educational and behavioral emphasis on health and nutrition in general? (We do not teach children in school the importance of being healthy, it is a learned behavior through social experience)

    5. Would it be more useful to be additive with desired outcomes? That is to say, should we gear technology to promote values of physical and mental health. For instance games that require interaction in a meta-game, or that is outside the game. Games that have an element of physical fitness, just for examples.

    6. And many more…

    Studying the impact of how the things we create is important, but it is also important to see that underlying assertion; we made these things, and they can be remade or retooled to an ends we intend. Although there will undoubtedly be negative consequences we cannot predict, it is an evolving process and we can always continue to better the devices and their utilization to constantly improve upon general human well being. Taking the stance that exposure to technology is bad is about as useful as suggesting that we should not give kids books, because they might stay inside and read.

    This is a process of learning to work with what we have created to constantly better our selves not negate our accomplishments because of unintended consequence.

    1. 1. Are there healthier ways to have a child engage with technology that mitigate what you would consider negative effects? If so, are certain technologies more prone to negative effects? Does that change at certain ages? Does gender identity or sex make a difference?

      Definitely, and as many bloggers have indicated, it’s all about moderation. Children now use technology 7.5 hours per day (Kaiser Foundation 2010), and AAP and CPS recommends 1-2. Handhelds were not included in KF 2010 research, so this figure is likely much higher, based on 2013 report by Common Sense Media. Babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers have now entered into the virtual world, with Fisher Price now distributing iPad mounts for infant car seats, potty seats, and even an iPhone mount inside a teething ring. Duration, frequency and intensity of media exposure for very young children has increased markedly and rapidly. Boys are into video games and porn, girls texting and facebook, and now 1 in 11 children ages 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile D 2009).

      2. Is it the physical technology that is inducing negative symptoms or is it a behavior that is promoted by the technology in the absence of external factors? That is to say, is leaving a child to their own devices, pardon the pun the cause, or is using the technology the cause.

      The effects of EMF radiation emitted is unknown at this time, but AAP has approached FCC to look into this. Indirect effect that is most worrisome is neglect. Using devices as soothers is creating significant issues with self-regulation. In the absence of a parent, who is connected to their device, children are attaching to devices as a default. Touch deprivation and detachment are prolific in daycare and preschool settings. Technology in and of itself is not a problem (if EMF checks out ok), as long as AAP and CSP guidelines are followed. Misuse and poor management of technology in homes and schools is a significant problem.

      3. Does the definition of physical addiction to technology even make sense for children in the context of immeasurable curiosity?
      The youngest child I’m working with is 3 years of age, oldest is 10. These children are extremely aggressive and have tantrums and meltdowns to the extent they can no longer attend daycare and school. Talk with teachers or early intervention staff about what they are seeing in the way of problematic child behaviour. This is not immeasurable curiosity.

      4. Are physical health issues a direct result of technological advancement or a lack of a counter measure of putting an educational and behavioral emphasis on health and nutrition in general? (We do not teach children in school the

      Child obesity and diabetes are epidemic, in both Canada and the U.S. Any device activity is sedentary. Take the device away from the child, and they get up and move.

      5. Would it be more useful to be additive with desired outcomes? That is to say, should we gear technology to promote values of physical and mental health. For instance games that require interaction in a meta-game, or that is outside the game. Games that have an element of physical fitness, just for examples.

      Addictions to devices result in a child who is sedentary, isolate, overstimulated, and neglected. Although I’m working with a video game designer presently to include more movement and nature access, the majority of the game is sedentary, but “yes”, this is the way to go. Studies show pro-social media results in pro-social skills, while anti-social media (intentional harm) results in anti-social behaviour. Parents and teachers should adhere to the expert guidelines put out by the AAP and CSP e.g. nothing for 0-2 years (not even background TV, as reduces parent interaction by 90% Christakis 2009), 1 hour per day for 3-5 years, and 2 hours per day for 6-18 years.

      Great questions by the way!

  42. I haven’t read all 150 comments to see if this has been addressed, but why would the passive activity of tv watching be given the okay for the same age which the interactive and stimulating activity of a nonviolent, puzzle-solving video game is not? I see very good arguements for taking great care with content and quantity, but outright bans? GOVERNMENT bans?! I don’t get it.

    1. Studies show it’s the content which makes the difference e.g. pro-social content fosters pro-social behaviors, and anti-social contents makes kids anti-social (see below). That said, video games have three factors that TV doesn’t have which make children more prone to addiction: immersion, rewards, and teaming. The immersion factor is worse the larger the screen, and literally, causes children to drop off of reality into the virtual world. Rewards drive human nature, especially boys. Teaming is highly capitalized by game manufacturers who have developed a design concept called the “pee factor” e.g. they want the child to feel obliged to his/her team to stay gaming, that they end up peeing their pants.


  43. This article is actually… completely insane.

    I have to believe it is a “Troll” article, designed to generate revenue for this garbage site, because I absolutely cannot believe anyone in their write mind would believe, much less publicly say most of the things said on this blog and the things you wrote in your comments.

    there is NO scientific causation (correlation does NOT equal causation, regardless of what you would like to “believe”) whatsoever to back up a single point you made. You should be embarrassed you wrote this and are perpetuating this senseless fear mongering.

    I now expect this comment to be deleted because you don’t like it.

    1. Whilst I agree that the tone if this article and the comments made by the author are slightly alarmist, there is good evidence provided for all of the points made by the author in the article. The link provided contains more than 200 references, none of which I expect you or anyone else disagreeing with the research into this topic will read. That is exactly the problem with publishing health information online, a lot of people will just stick to what they think is right and will not change their minds regardless of how much evidence they are presented with. It’s sad that researchers and practitioners have to resort to the infotainment style to try to get their message across because as you pointed out, science does need to be backed by evidence, but the catch 22 is that most people don’t want to read it, and the general population doesn’t have the skills to be able to interpret it anyway.

      1. I want to cry reading your post. I’ve worked for the past 26 years as a private practice pediatric occupational therapist watching our children slide down a slippery slope, and feel powerless to help parents and teachers see what is happening. A decade ago, after seeing child after child presenting with attention deficit, problematic behavior, poor self-regulation, motor delays, extreme aggression…all diagnosed as something or another, I started collating research on the impact of technology on children and was stunned. This was a decade ago. Since then, my passion has been to decipher what we know, and pose questions about what we don’t know, so parents and teachers can make informed decisions regarding appropriate and responsible technology use for their children. Then came the iPad and iPhones, and it was as if the ground was literally sliding out from under me, and my colleagues. Now, only four years after the inception of the handhelds, everyone is under the assumption that these devices are not only necessary, but that they can’t live even for one day without them. Yikes!

        Check out the new Apptivity Seat by Fisher Price! You can also get an iPotty, or even a teething ring with iPhone mounted in the middle. Don’t forget the car device for movies, and be sure everyone has their own device for going to the restaurant…wouldn’t want to have to share!


        1. Your passion for this topic shows through in your work and your comments, however, to quote one of my favorite movies, ‘I only offer the truth, nothing more.’

          In fact, that’s a pretty good motto for scientists to live by now that I think about it.

          1. You should take some consolation in the fact that I just finished the human development unit as part of my Bachelor of Behavioral Science, and all of the information contained in your article is also contained in the course material that new psychologists are learning. So this information is getting out there, maybe just not as quickly as it could.

            And yes, I’m well aware of those new toys from fisher-price. Only a year ago they were producing some of the best toys on the market, and now this. It seems as though they’re experiencing a sudden drop in ethical standards by promoting the use of hand-held gadgets along with their toys when it is well known in the child development field that the use of any type of technology has been proven to be detrimental to very young children.

    2. Someone help YOU…no disrespect, but you are completely ignorant in this area! Please do a little more reading on the subject and of the dangers of wifi in our children’s classrooms…please!!
      Btw…it is right mind…not write mind!

  44. Instead of making a case against the use of handheld devices (and I assume fallout goes towards TV and computer use as well), I would like to see more articles addressing the issue of irresponsible parenting, and using technology as a substitute for parenting.

    My son has had exposure to technology since he was 18 months old. He is now 6 years old and he knows how to operate a computer, an iPad, iphone, xbox, etc. Is he developmentally delayed? No. In fact, he is on the ball with his lessons. Is this because of his tech use? I don’t think so. Is he an introvert? No, he loves playdates and making friends.

    What does these “horrible devices” do for him? For one, I am responsible enough to supervise what he can and cannot do on these things. He is multi-national and apps like Freya and Friends or the Winston Show lets him get acquainted with different cultures and provides information from around the world. Does he get lost in his games? On the contrary, he tends to come to us and discuss what he’s seen or done. He has set hours of tech, more than what is recommended but he also has a life outside of “tech”. More so, as parents, we take time to make sure we spend some time with him when he is using technology (eg., xBox, iPad, computer or TV). As a result, instead of embracing violence/sex-filled games or shows, he likes to watch or read National Geographic types of articles, and he cautions his playdates when they turn on the TV and wants to watch a non-age appropriate show.

    I believe it is important, more so than cautioning against the use of technology by young children, to educate parents. These devices are not babysitters. Nor should they replace parental interaction or rule. Blaming technology for children’s behavior gives parents an out for their own behaviors.

    I have seen other parents buying their children iPads at a young age and then leave them to use it as they please. That I do not agree with. Do I believe these kids are more prone to tantrums and bratty behavior because of technology? I am more inclined to agree that these kids I know are spoiled rotten by their parents rather than blame the iPad or iPhone.

  45. Thanks for the article Cris. How can we persuade SD 46 teachers, administrators and school trustees to reduce or stop the proliferation of device-based teaching? I understand there’s no empirical evidence to support electronic media as a teaching tool, and that on the contrary screen-based devices interfere with memory retention and attention. Yet computer based ( and, more troublingly, wifi based) devices are being used for more subjects and for younger children (ie, does my Kindergartener need computer time??) What can be done to stop the trend?

    1. I wrote this proposed policy “10 reasons to ban handheld devices for children under age 12 years” at the request of teachers, special education teachers, and principals who attended 3 workshops I presented at conferences over the past 2 weeks who said they are feeling pressured by their administrations and education government to push technology on younger and younger children. They requested I summarize relevant research to support this ban.

      I suggest you share this document with your colleagues, principals, special education teachers, school therapists, your local school boards, and media. March 7/8, 2014 is National Unplug Day. Why not start this Friday in schools e.g. go whole day without technology? Plan to spend a lot of time on the playgrounds and outdoors, as movement and nature restore attention and learning. Maybe administer a test (math, spelling) and see how the students perform. Better? Well…then this further supports reducing the use of technology.

      1. thanks for your reply, Cris. I’m a parent who has complained about the use of technology in the curriculum for my K and grade 2 children. I’ve also been to school board meetings to persuade the board to halt the proliferation of wifi in educational settings. Both causes seems futile. the argument is that tech is an essential part of our culture and that the special needs kids need it and therefore all kids need it. Obviously I don’t agree but the cause seem lost….the board doesn’t want to hear it.

  46. Hi, Good article. This technology and children is not entirely a good thing in my opinion. The problem we have though is school’s telling us parents that children learn differently these days and will be raised in a totally different world than we as parents were. Because of this our school is suggesting all students from age 5 will be taught to use Ipads or the like and although the school will provide all students access to Ipads they encourage parents to consider purchasing them for their children. Surely education around the use of this technology should also be included in school. Are we able to use your research when communicating with our school on this very important issue?

    1. Please reference this document when communicating with schools. I encourage educators to ask the question “Show me the evidence” when discussing use of technology for education, as there isn’t any. Why the whole education system is moving toward wide spread use of devices that have no proven benefits, and are posing risk of harm to children, is beyond understanding, and could be considered unethical.

  47. Thank you for compiling this research Cris.

    While I see that this is a polarised issue and that there are many parents who manage to achieve the perfect balance between technology and reality I can share my experience with working as a literacy tutor in the school system and observing the kids ‘learning to read’ on starfall.com – the graphical interface pretty much gives enough clues that the need to read is minimal.

    Frankly, I think there is enough data out there that shows how effective multi sensory learning is so it maddens me to see schools flaunting technology like the panacea to all ills instead of using the tried, tested and more traditional techniques for learning….that can still be just as fun as a computer game.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. What is astonishing is the data showing teachers have reduced printing instruction to 13 minutes per day in K-3 grades (Graham S 2008). As literacy continues to decline (Canada dropped out of the top ten in the PISA past year), schools use more and more technology, which cannot teach literacy. I call this the Learning Paradox. Educators think computers teach, but they are only a tool that present factoids. The student has to then take those facts and critically analyze them, process, memorize, and assign meaning for eventual extrapolation. Teachers teach, computers entertain. In the absence of the teacher, can the student learn? This is the big question.

      Every child I see, without exception, is a slow printer e.g. fall below grade norms for output speeds. What this means is that every time these students put a pencil/pen to paper, they are using up precious brain power to figure out how to make their letters and numbers…where to start, when to turn, which way to go. By grade 3, printing instruction is over, if they got it at all. These children go on to struggle immensely in EVERY SUBJECT!. I’ve worked with children who are brilliant, but can’t print, and therefore get low grades because they are so slow with output. I see youth in high school who can’t print. It’s astounding to hand these children computers and ignore teaching the basics e.g. printing, reading and math. Literacy is spatial, and requires teaching in the third dimension, not on a 2D screen.

  48. As a child who grew up playing video games my parents always told me it was bad and you lose sleep, you can’t focus and all of these other false symptoms. Statistics have shown children that play video games on a regular basis on average have four times the reaction speed of someone who didn’t. The U.S Army conducted a survey with 100 helicopter pilots, 50 played helicopter based video games growing up and 50 didn’t. Take a wild guess which section of people did better. Video games are like anything else, they are actually very good and very healthy for you if used in moderation. http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
    check that link out it will completely change your perspective on video games. Hand helds should not be banned they should be used in moderation, if you child is walking to school and playing a “handheld” video game, not only are they multi-tasking by learning to focus on walking, being aware of their surroundings and also problem solving amongst many other positive attributes video games give to people. Video games are one of the best things created to help a child’s mind develop.

    1. I’m not saying that there aren’t some plausible benefits of technology, but one has to consider the all the risks of using technology with young children, which are significant, and then make informed and responsible decisions whether the benefits outweigh the risks. I have parents telling me they are allowing unrestricted tech with their children, because of these studies. They really think their children are going to grow up to be a fighter pilot, or an eye surgeon. Problem is, the ways in which we are raising and educating our children with technology are no longer sustainable, meaning through technology overuse, we are creating a generation of children who can’t pay attention or learn, are obese with cardiovascular compromise, are sleep deprived, depressed, anxious, socially phobic, aggressive, and desensitized to physical and sexual violence. These children are not going to grow up happy and healthy with functional relationships and jobs. Parents will be lucky if they even leave the house. The most common comments by people who attend my workshops center around what to do with the drop out in their basement, who is addicted to porn and video games (boys), or texting and facebook (girls)

  49. Good article…disappointing comments. A little unfair to say these children will FAIL in literacy, not graduate high school or become leaders of our next generation….let this generation finish growing first before you say it.

    I am also curious as to what other factors the patients you treat may be contributing to their problems? Diet? Abuse? Divorce?

    How many children do you treat with the same problems or issues are not exposed to technology at all?

    1. This document “10 reasons to ban handheld devices in children under 12 years” was evidenced by research collated on Fact Sheet (link below).

      The reference to failure to attain literacy comes from research conducted at UBC’s Healthy Early Learning Partnership who mapped BC and Manitoba, who administered the Early Development Inventory and found one third of children enter school developmentally vulnerable, will go on to fail their grade 4 and 7 exams, and drop out of high school. This study was initially conducted in 2009 by Paul Kershaw a social scientist, and then repeated again in 2013 with same results.

      Kershaw P. British Columbia Business Council and University of British Columbia researchers with the Human Early Learning Partnership. A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Early Human Capital Investment in BC. 2009. Retrieved on Sept. 29, 2013 from http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/documents/27/.

      Healthy Early Learning Partnership – Early Development Inventory Maps for British Columbia, University of British Columbia; retrieved on February 26, 2014 from http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/maps/edi/bc/

  50. Thank-you for writing such a great article. I am a mother of two boys and Ive seen with my own eyes clear developmental delays and anti social behaviour just within my own community in children that are overexposed or exposed too early to screen time. My almost Two year old has almost never watched TV, he loves climbing trees, playing in the sandpit, helping me in the garden and with jobs around the house. My Seven year old LOVES TV and will watch a movie occasionally and we will treat it as an event and thats great. He has never played video games and thankfully the other children in our street dont either they play ball games and climb trees and make Billy carts and generally entertain themselves all while learning important socail skills and having fun at the same time and learning to love and participate in life. To me its common sense that young and developing children are better off with minimal screen time. Chris your research and time in sharing evidence based facts is so worthwhile. Im sure its helping to create a shift in our culture that is really needed.

    1. You’re so welcome! For those interested in brain rewiring from video games, this video clip produced by SOS Parents interviews researchers who show FMRI’s of children who use video games, comparative to those who don’t, showing brain changes in those children who use video games. To summarize, video games are resulting in less activity in the frontal cortex, known for impulse control and executive function.


  51. my personal experience is that there is a lot of benefits to not using technology during childhood. So many parents use screens, and I understand why they do, but I also think that most parents have no idea what they and their children are missing. Having unplugged children is really an amazingly wonderful gift – they learn to entertain themselves and the things they learn are often things that last a lifetime – like how to immerse yourself in a good book, how to dig in the garden, how to cook a meal, how to create an art project from scratch, how to play… many parents do manage to balance screen time and unplugged time and make it all work – but it’s a constant challenge and balancing act. Eliminating it all together during the early years can actually be much easier. Thanks for posting this and researching this.

    1. Have you heard about the upcoming National Unplug Day sundown March 7 to sundown March 8, 2014? I would like to pose a challenge to all to follow through with this unplug, but am especially interested in the naysayers experience e.g. those who oppose banning handhelds with children < 12 years. Can the opposition party try the 24 hour unplug, and let us know how you get along with it? If indeed you, friends and family have no concerns about tech overuse by young children, then you should be able to go without all tech for 24 hours…right? No TV, internet, emails, movies, cell phone (except emergency calls), texting, etc. What do you think? Challenge on?

  52. Cris, When I was about 12, CPB created a show that became a complete American icon and fixture – Sesame Street. When this show debuted, they touted that it was based on research that showed the average attention span of the target age group was something like 30 seconds. Therefore their segments were 20-30 seconds long. What’s amazed me is the increase in ADD and ADHD in the decades since. Sending my child to a Waldorf school and shutting off the TV when he was awake taught me the value of a calmer environment. I would love to see some research as to whether the short attention span we require of our children has actually decreased the ability of children to attend.

    1. Dr. Dimitri Christakis found that for every one hour of TV viewed per day, equated to a 10% increased attention difficulty. He also found in a group of 4 year olds, a significant decline in cognitive function (memory, distraction, attention) after 9 minute exposure to fast paced cartoon Spongebobs (1 screen change per second). What was interesting about this study was control group watched 9 minutes of Caiou with no detrimental effects, which changes screens every 11 seconds. Following is link to Dr. Christakis’s TED Talk regarding these statements.


      When I was filmed for Doc Zone episode Are We Digital Dummies, I asked producer why such rapid sequencing and pacing of today’s media, and he told me that trend was pushed by directors who think it is the only way to capture public attention. Many teachers say children will only pay attention to technology information, yet the technology format may be contributing to growing attention deficit. Kind of a catch-22 don’t you think?

  53. ‘Grand Theft Auto V portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture, and mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows.’

    It’s also 18+. There is a reason for that. If your child is playing GTA V, that’s a parent screw up. Not the fault of technology.

    ‘Do you think it’s healthy to spend all your free time playing video games? What about sports, dating, camping, riding bikes, travelling, etc? There’s a whole world out there man! Don’t you want to go explore it?’

    Why are you telling people what to do? I have lived on 3 continents, visited over 25 countries, have 2 post grads (and am working on a third), have a healthy relationship…..and ALSO play lots of (some would say far too many) video games. Always have. People’s choices are their own, let them have them.

    1. I echo your sentiments to respect individual choice, and generally this is my philosophy, but I also believe in education and prevention. Over the past decade I’ve witnessed a dramatic decline in child health, behavior, and ability to learn, and when the child unplugs from technology for a couple of weeks, all this improves. Coincidence? I think not. The range of children’s ages I’m presently treating with tech addictions are 3-10 years, who by the way, have been kicked out of daycare and school due to uncontrolled aggression. If you’ve seen what I’ve seen over the past ten years, you might think differently.

      1. ‘If you’ve seen what I’ve seen over the past ten years, you might think differently.’

        Well, if we are going to talk personal stories, as an primary educator who has a one to one iPad program in my class and uses them for literacy, numeracy, research, logic problems, phonemic awareness, communication, responsibility (and even behaviour!)…and has seen strong student improvement across the board (especially in reading and math) I have to disagree. I was just at a conference about technology and learning last weekend, I’m pretty sure all the attendees there would all disagree too.

        iPads are a tool. If they aren’t used properly then of course they will be harmful. If you let your kid stay up and play 18 hours of Farmville every day, then of course they will have problems. It also means you are a very poor parent. It’s not the fault of the technology.

        You say you have seen a decline in learning over the last decade….iPads have only been around since 2010. That’s 3-4 years. The other 6? (iPhones have only been around 6-7) Your article is about handheld devices. Or did you see kids rocking Palm Pilots back in the day. You could bring up gameboys…but those are ‘GAME’ machines. Again, if you let your kid play games all day, it’s the poor choices of the parent which are to blame if they are having issues, not the technology.

          1. You’d have to be blind to not be aware of all the studies that link the benefits of computer (gaming) and learning. Or, you’re just ignoring them, since your whole website is a ‘sales tactic’ for your services.

  54. Hello,

    I work in the video game industry and I have a psychology degree. I am disappointed with the lack of links to the studies and minimal citations in this article. I would argue this article is more agenda driven than scientifically driven. While I agree with certain sentiments of the article, handheld devices should definitely not be banned for those under 12.

    With regards to violent video games (and violent media), much of the scientific evidence is mixed. For a much more comprehensive view on violent media with better citations, do an internet search on the topic or look here: http://videogames.procon.org/

    Regarding sleep deprivation, it is well known that many youngster’s do not get enough sleep. You tie it to technology, when the main culprit is school and class schedules. For a much more comprehensive view on sleep deprivation, do an internet search or please look here: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

    I could go on with other issues, but you could start by putting better links in your article.

    1. Following is a meta-analytic study showing violent video games increase aggression and aggression-related variables and decrease prosocial outcomes.


      Children who are allowed devices in their bedrooms at night, have much higher rates of sleep deprivation. Ask any parent.

      We can dispute the research, or not, but when one considers all the areas technology impacts children….physical (obesity/diabetes, cardiovascular – early heart attack/stroke, sleep deprivation, developmental delay), mental (anxiety, depression, attention deficit, tantrums), social (phobias, aggression, explosive violence), and academic (poor grades, high drop out, learning difficulties)…it’s a no brainer this stuff is not good for young children.

  55. What has happen to parents are we getting lazy with everything in life, not teaching any values, no discipline, nothing…i wait on tables i see everything, to throwing food on the floor….both parents on their devices not talking or paying attention to their surrounding, truly saddened and frightened of our children’s future, its as if not cares……i do care, hopefully there are a lot of others that care.

  56. Please provide references to your in text citations. For instance (Tremblay 2005) means nothing without information about the original article or scholarly work. It could be an expert or it could be someone named Tremblay the writer just talked to in 2005. I appreciate the challenge of this article and from a learning point of view I’m interested to dig into the research. Thank you!

    1. The research is collated on a document called Fact Sheet on http://www.zonein.ca. Only a few of the over 250 authors are referenced on “Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12 years”. This blog has had 123,046 unique viewers to date.

  57. I find this article rife with common misconceptions often held people with poor understanding of technology.

    The premise is these technological devices ultimately cause harm. Logically speaking, highly impossible, seeing as they are inanimate objects. Tools to be used intelligently.

    As an educator working with children with learning difficulties, reading problems, and a variety of other struggles, never has it been more effective to use such technology to reach out to these kids in alternative ways. Spelling, counting, reading and vocabulary, having concepts explained and illustrated in bright videos – these are things that generations before now had to do without.

    Correlation does NOT equal causation. It is very dangerous to make assumptions based on correlations. There have been absolutely no concrete studies proving the detrimental effects of video-games (violent or not – this is subjective). On the contrary, video games have been proven beneficial for the developing brain – problem solving, co-operating, planning, foresight, ethics – these are all things that one could benefit from by playing video games.

    To have this unhealthy distrust of technology screams of miseducation and fear-mongering. It’s the same way people cry foul whenever they hear the word “radiation” – without understanding what it is, it sounds like a scary, dangerous word…but in reality, we’re getting radiated as we speak. right?

    This sort of thinking is exactly the same as people being afraid of light-bulbs when they were first invented. Just because you fail to understand it , doesn’t make it the devil’s work.

    To hide children from the world is irresponsible. To hide things from them because parents/caregivers are unable/too lazy or stuck in their ways to learn new things is UNFORGIVABLE. Misinformation is the worst kind of harm.

    The solution for kids spending too much time staring at their screens? How about parents start learning how exactly their world works, accept and learn how the technology works (instead of cowering and finger-pointing), and explain to their kids about responsibility and time management? Too much work, easier just to ban things rather than take time to understand them, right? Besides, if the adults can’t have the discipline to get their noses away from their own screens once in a while (ironic because you have written your post online, and I came across it from staring at one of my various screens), then how are they going to be in a position to tell children what they can or cannot do?

    Didn’t mean to be rude or personally attacking, but you have attacked an entire group of inanimate objects – why not attack parenting styles or the fact that parents today mostly sorely lack basic technological skills and are unable to keep up with their kids’ worlds?

      1. I still stand by what I said. The “fact-sheet” started out promising, but it took me a great deal of effort to keep taking it seriously when I came to the sections on correlating violent video-games and bad grades, cell-phones, radiation and causes of Autism. Almost all your ‘facts’ are correlations, not causation.

        Fact: I get a stomachache everytime it’s my turn to do dishes….ergo, dirty dishes cause stomachaches.

        The beef I have with your article, and the ‘fact-sheet’ is the complete lack of reason. Again, technology is not a living thing, and thus it cannot cause harm on its own. Blaming kids’ isolation issues on technology isn’t really going to solve anything, and only serves to throw out the baby with the bathwater, given the benefits of the exact same technology is proving to be immensely useful in aiding young learners (and old), helping educators explain things more clearly, being able to really address students’ different learning styles, creating access to previously inaccessible fields for differently abled-people. e.g. A child with reading difficulties may keep trying to read if given a nice tablet that helps with reading with pictures, sounds, videos etc. In the past, the same child may have given up in frustration, chucked their books away, and have been subsequently labelled “slow”.

        As far as violence, you greatly underestimate the intelligence of kids. They are able to tell the difference between a fantasy and real-life. Look at the news – massacres, genocide, war, child slavery, poverty, violence EVERYWHERE – even in places where they don’t have video-games or television. Are you trying to say that the generations that grew up on Looney Tunes are more likely to try blowing up coyotes/roadrunners/ducks/bunnies with ACMEbrand dynamite, just because TV said so?

        Cyberbullies? There are ALWAYS going to be a certain kind of people that choose to bully. Now they have a new platform. Back in the old-timey days, when telephones were first invented, I’m sure there were a good number of prank-callers – there still are. But the educated, forward thinking section of society has gotten around by inventing measures (Caller ID, no-call list, laws, etc..) Note how they didn’t advocate the banning of the telephone. The internet did not cause cyberbullying. Bullies will bully – in any way they can. Where are the parents and teachers when the bullying is happening? Why are parents letting their minors sign up for facebook without even knowing what their child does on the internet when home-alone? Because, the parents just don’t really want to take the effort to understand.

        If you would like to look at causation for a change – how about looking at specific parenting styles? Instead of blaming inanimate objects, or young children’s BAD habits, why not go after the parents/educators/caregivers and figure out if they have the necessary qualifications to make such decisions for their kids? Common sense should dictate to not plop your infant in front of the TV for hours at a time, but this could be comparable to an old-timey bad parent who plopped their baby down in front of the fireplace all day… it’s just bad parenting. You can’t blame the fire if the kid gets burnt!

        School violence? Violent video games? Absolutely no concrete connection. If you’re telling me that violence is a modern phenomena, brought about by evil video games, then perhaps you’ll have to turn on your TV and look at the news in different parts of the world (that don’t have these games.) Violence occurs everywhere – kids used to be slaves (some still are), spouses still get beaten, people still get stabbed/tortured/shot, some people have psychological problems and may have an psychotic episode, make bad decisions and try to kill everyone – again, these have been going on for all of human history. Blaming a piece of plastic is just irresponsible.

        Too often, the parents have no clue how to use a device, let the kid have free reign, then come crying and blame the device when something goes wrong. Too often, false sensationalist facts spread by articles like this are the only places parents get their info from.

        It’s not very different from being an anti-vaxxer, in my opinion – because it will ultimately cause harm to the rest of intelligent society. If this sort of fear-mongering trend continues, it will only serve to reduce access to resources. It is selfish and regressive.

        One misinformed but outspoken individual is all it takes – ban technology from schools just because one person was too stupid/afraid/stubborn to try and learn how to use a computer or phone. Sounds like the milkman complaining about the evils of refrigerated food, or villagers burning witches because they don’t know how to science. Do you?

  58. I’m not so certain about this survey or research you did here. I am now 24 years old, and coming from parents who were born in the 1950s, they know little of technology. Having said that, me and my brother used to play video games all the time when we were younger. Games from the original GTA, fighting games, to sport games, and so on, and we turned out pretty good… graduated university, have friends, very social, are not obese, and have full time jobs. Obviously technology is easier to get, but i don’t think it will affect kids in the way that your so called study has shown. Half the problems that is listed from technology could easily be from genetic, or parenting problems: like a divorce, spousal fights/arguments, parents could also be giving their children junk food causing obesity and not enrolling them into sports. The list goes on, and to say that technology is causing all of these problems is absolutely out of context.

  59. Cris, aside from the comments here, I wanted to say that I really respect how you are treating people’s feedback and comments to you. Even though people clearly disagree (and sometimes not nicely), you have responded respectfully, engagingly, and non-defensively. The maturity and self-control that requires, around an issue that you are obviously passionate about and experienced in, has not gone unnoticed. You have given me food for thought and encouragement to keep swimming upstream, even though society at large, and admittedly myself too sometimes, wants to “go with the [mindless tech] flow.”

  60. I also have an issue with your article, for a few reasons I don’t feel have been addressed yet having read through all the comments. Your alarming and complete damning of technology will be embraced by many a young parent’s Luddite parent generation and be used against them. In reading the comments I see you kindly say time and again you merely want this technology use intentionally monitored by conscientious parents and creative play encouraged but there is no such soft disclaimer in your article as you are dealing with the extreme cases and the data you pulled from them. My mother in law who already dislikes me is going to take every “fact” you’ve stated to further vilify me regardless of my best practices and make my life more difficult and create more tension in my family if I have the misfortune of having her stumble upon it. You have used your intellectual authority to strike a wedge between family members. A softer approach might not hit as wide an audience without its terrible shock value but I think if you’d taken a paragraph to explain the exceptions and the benefits to some your influence would been more far reaching. Something along the lines of the digital candy vs. brocolli, I loved that. For the record I am definitely in the brocolli camp. Since you article comes off as ‘this medium is downright evil’ backlash is inevitable, and unfortunately you will not be the only recipient.

    Secondly we are failing our children, I agree whole-heartedly, they are visual learners and experiential learners and yet we are still plying them with dry factoid memory examinations that are proven to kill any enthusiasm for learning. Guess what? There’s an app for that! Entrepreneurs have created wonderful content to address the driest learning tasks and I applaud the ingenuity with which they do it, they engage children’s creative thinking and stimulate them on more levels than one over loaded teacher of 30 students can. Until education is reformed to include and stimulate the visual and experiential learners I am grateful to have these options. I’m not saying this should be used exclusively but there is obvious value in children having access to such learning aides. I understand your son is long grown and things have changed but not everything is nessecarily for the worst. I don’t feel you have an educated picture of parental stewardship of our digital culture, when you mentioned young children being exposed to GTA V you instantly lost your credibility with me. That would never happen here, and your group of subjects must be completely without conscientious parents, everyone knows of that game’s reputation.

    Thirdly there is huge cultural capital and future prospects in being computer literate. There are many professions that require it as a basic skill, not to mention the many positions in that sector itself that are a natural fit for young adults to bring their enthusiasm to. A passion for video games easily translates into learning to write game code, or character animation. The video game industry makes more moneyed employes more people than the movie industry, Hollywood and Bollywood combined. Contrary to what you seem to believe video games have evolved to be complex social forums, and can be a safe forum for a shy child to develop social confidence and personal skills. They also provide a dangerous world-safe place to explore adventurous play. I agree with limits but they should be specifically geared towards meeting the child’s needs individually. Damning the lot of tablet and computer users as having all those issues is alarmist and missing the bigger picture that for better and for worse this is our world now.

    I admire your tenacity in replying to this stream of comments, thank you for remaining accountable and grounded. I think too many people use the anominity of the internet to fire off their frustrated hated filled missives which your article might fit into if not for the fact you care enough to defend it.

    1. The request for a ban on handhelds for children under the age of 12 years was evidenced by research which documented significant problems in high tech users, and therefore speaks predominantly to this group, as well as to schools. While many children, parents, and teachers use technology responsibly (1-2 hours per day max, nothing for < 2 yrs, no media violence < 12 yrs) and without detriment, many do not. This document was created as a wake up call for parents, teachers, health providers, government, and technology production corporations to comprehensively look at the research and make responsible decisions toward enhancing child development and learning. If children demonstrate the following symptoms, and are high users of technology, we should be addressing tech overuse along with everything else we do: developmental delay, obesity/diabetes, sleep disorder/deprivation, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, autism, social phobias, aggression, explosive violence, poor academic performance, and/or learning difficulties. What we know about the detrimental impact of technology on children is vast, yet few know these facts. What we don't know is also vast e.g. long term exposure to EMF radiation, rewiring of the brain. I am encouraging people who have or work with children to proceed with caution regarding technology. Get the facts, and make wise changes in how you use technology, especially with young children. Consider the who, what, when, where, why and how's of tech. Not all tech is bad e.g. pro-social media results in improved pro-social skills, but anti-social media results in anti-social behavior, so we should limit and put risk warnings on video games. All tech is sedentary, so balancing tech with healthy activity is important for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular (stroke, heart attack) prevention. Most tech is isolating, and if parents are overusing tech, they are neglecting their children. Most tech is overstimulating, and is rewiring the brain to only attend to high speed stimuli, making parents, teachers, and pretty much everyone else boring. All tech is inside, where children now spend 95% of their time, limiting the sensory soothing aspects of nature, and the physical exertion and social aspects of rough and tumble play. All tech is touch deficit, meaning our children are not getting touched enough, resulting in often unmanageable tantrums and anxiety. As a pediatric occupational therapist for 26 years working in homes, daycare/preschool, school and clinic settings, I am seeing significant decline in child physical and mental health, as well as their ability to pay attention, learn, and attain literacy. Significant social change is required to reverse this decline, including restricting technology use with many of our children. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write out their thoughts, both positive and negative. This blog provides an opportunity to dialogue, which enables everyone to ponder and work through what is a very difficult topic.

      1. This request for a ban on handheld technology with children under the age of 12 years, was evidenced by existing research demonstrating detrimental effects of technology overuse in a number of developmental areas. As young children’s brains are developing at a rapid pace, long duration, frequency, and intensity of electronic stimulation has known and unknown consequences. Knowing the facts, and proceeding with caution regarding technology use, especially with young children, is urgent and imperative.

        Yes…many children, parents, and teachers use technology within recommended guidelines (1-2 hours per day, nothing 0-2 years, no violent media < 12 years), and can manage handheld devices safely and without detrimental effects. Many do not. Some children are not adversely affected by technology, and do not demonstrate negative consequences. Many do. This request for a ban on handheld technology for children < 12 years was intended as a wakeup call for parents and teachers who are overusing or inappropriately using technology, and encourages all those who have or work with children, to assess risk vs benefit of technology use, and manage technology use appropriately. Children who demonstrate delayed development, obesity, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, social phobia, learning difficulties, poor school performance, aggression, and/or explosive violence, should be screened for technology overuse and measures should be taken to provide technology reduction interventions. Consideration of who, what, when, where, why, and how parameters is necessary when using technology. Technology is neither good or bad, and can be a useful learning tool, but should be used sparingly and to the child’s benefit, not detriment. We do know that most technology is sedentary, increasing risk of obesity/diabetes and cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke). Connection to technology is isolating, and we know from orphanage studies, human connection is imperative for mental and social development and behavior. Most technology is overstimulating and rewiring the brain in ways that are not yet defined, but do know that the resulting attention deficit makes everything else boring. Most video games are violent and many contain pornographic imagery, resulting in aggression, anti-social behaviors, and perversions. As child technology usage patterns that of the parent, many children who overuse technology have parents who are neglecting them, resulting in very problematic behaviors. All of above depend on the who, what, when, where, why, and how parameters, and consequently these effects will be minimal for children who use technology appropriately. Technology is here to stay, and if use is curtailed, so will be this generation of children. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and dialogue provoking comments. This isn't an easy area to discuss, and I honor your courage.

  61. Banning handheld devices categorically for children under 12 is insane.

    I can understand many of the points, but find the science to be incomplete. I see citations cited, I see letters behind people’s names “proving” their credibility on the science, but I also know and am in contact with a number of children an d families of children whose expressive communication was unlocked by the use of handheld devices, and often from an early age.

    By implication, the “10 reasons” are part of an epidemic problem. That’s nonsense. Some people experience some of those “reasons”, but there is no proof that the devices themselves are causal, or even catalysts. Even some ubiquitous studies claiming detrimental effects on the brain suffer from the fact that a number of the subjects experienced symptoms before the handheld devices were invented.

    Any statement as blanket as the one in this article is dangerous.

    What would be better would be general moderation, and better assessment for aptitude and suitability of technology.

    Ultimately, some of the assertions are true, and some are sort of true. It is my overwhelming wish that each person get the greatest opportunities possible to succeed in life and become the best person he or she can be.

    For some, that becomes a reality when they HAVE the technology from a young age. For others, it becomes a reality when their exposure to the technology is delayed and limited. But a categorical chart and list such as in this article are misleading and irresponsible.

    I cannot agree with a ban for all children under 12. I cannot agree with a ban for any. But responsible analysis is of paramount importance.

    My 12-year old son is my greatest teacher. And he has had technology from a very young age. I don’t see any evidence of the fears of the “Ten Reasons” in him.

  62. Thank you for all of your research and time that you put into what you do. As a Special Education Teacher for Home Schooling families and huge advocate for Occupational Therapy (and many other therapies of course), I am going to share this article with as many people as I can. I have read much of this research myself, but this summarizes it all beautifully, so I applaud you for that. I am constantly researching and discussing with parents, friends, and family about the increase in diagnoses in children that profoundly affect their lives (ASD, SPD, CDC, etc.). Screen time is just one reason, but a huge one. Keep up all the hard work! We need people like you! Blessings, Kristine. 🙂

  63. It’s amazing how people try to discredit research when they don’t like what it shows. My guess is that this article has struck a nerve with many readers. Those slamming the research are likely addicted to technology themselves or can’t manage to parent without it.

    1. Good research doesn’t try to conclude. It suggests trends and correlations.

      Frankly, it’s a bit insulting to suggest that people’s genuine objections are not valid because you speculate they may be addicted to technology.

      It is the nature of good science and research for people to disagree and object. It is how the scientific method works.

  64. While I certainly agree with overuse and unsupervised children using all the new technology out there, this article makes it seems like that if you let your child use your iPad, they are going to end up delayed, low functioning, overweight, and have a mental illness, especially in regards to the accompanied chart.
    I’ve got eight children and they’ve been using a handheld device since they were infants. My oldest is ten so he started using iPads and such a bit later than the rest. I do supervise and am very well aware of what they have access to on television, their video games, and any handheld devices they have. We do not allow any truly violent video games (ninja turtles has been approved) and screen everything before they use it. They are all involved in sports each season and there is a reasonable limit on how much tech they get each day. With all that said, all five of the school age children make straight A’s, including my child who was born at 30 weeks, has cerebral palsy and mild brain damage and my child who has dyslexia. My five year old preschooler tested higher than all of his peers going into preschool this year and has been reading since he was two year old. When he was tested at a year and half old, he actually tested at a four year olds range in regards to his verbal skills. Three of them rarely bring home any grade lower than a 97%. None have any issues with aggression or are in the least bit overweight.
    It seems to me there has to be a middle ground. I’ve seen first hand how it has helped my children when used responsibly. It also can’t all be from genetics because not all my children are biological.

    1. Way to go Mom of eight. You are a shining example of balancing technology with healthy activity! In sharing your family’s storey, I hope your inspiration filters down to other families who struggle with tech overuse. Kudos.

  65. Many of the responders have jumped into the battle here regarding kids use of technology but the real message here is about everyone limiting their use of technology because people are not connecting with each other, what Cris refers to as attachment.

    As a speech-language pathologist, I have been wondering why I have been getting more and more referrals for children in kindergarten over the last few years. My theory is in line with Cris’. Yes, kids are drawn to technology and some parents are happy to have their kids engaged in something. But parents are busy on their technology so much of the time and they are not engaging with their children. Thus, children are not developing speech, language, literacy and social skills like they used to. Put it all away! Talk and play with your kids. Go outside. Help your children learn social rules. Read a book or two…or ten.

  66. After reading many of the comments (majority) which are negative, I’m really surprised how many people still want to stick an iPad on their child’s lap, because it makes them tech savy, teaches them, or whatever. Get real!

  67. I think what I’ve come to is that it is very individual for every family and I’m trying to navigate this road for us. We are fortunate in that the parent community of my kids’ friends is very open. We’re actually having an email conversation right now about limits, what games are ok, how we feel and why and just exploring the issue as a community. Honestly, I just don’t think there is a clear path here and we’re all just doing our best. For my family with a tween boy, the cat is out of the bag as far as technology goes…his friends play video games and it varies a lot between families in terms of what kind of games are allowed. For us, no first-person shooter games and violence is an aspect that I draw a firm line on most of the time. But I think the real job here is to help our children learn to navigate this world.

    I often want to find out the real deal on this through the research, but mostly what I’ve found is flawed studies and anecdotal evidence. It’s always the extremes of bad behavior and limited attention span – I think there a many reasons for this of which technology probably plays a role but is not the sole causal factor. Poverty is a major factor in these issues with children. I would much rather see us spend our time fighting poverty and the devastating ways in which it affects developing brains. Clearly there are folks who let their kids play too much and play games that are not developmentally appropriate (and some may never be appropriate in my opinion). We can certainly educate in that area as we do with nutrition and exercise. I just think that it’s unrealistic to expect parents to try to keep their children protected from something so pervasive and has such social currency. There has to be a balance here.

  68. This is interesting and worth considering. (As I read this on my iPhone) hand-held devices are brand new and I wouldn’t want to let my kids take the fall for my ignorance.
    That being said, I have a 3 year old who can read books and sound out words, (at about a 2nd – 3rd grade reading level) has memorized all 50 U.S. states and their capitals, could count to 100 since before he was 2 and has an awesome memory, language skills and attention span. I always credited a lot of that to his exposure to technology from a young age (3 months he started watching short YouTube cartoons). We never really let him watch violent things, just educational, but I am embarrassed to admit we were not always conservative with how long he spent doing it. (We are no where near the suggested usage table you listed) I know 3 years old is young and it’s not like he is done developing (we can’t say technology-use was a success or failure at this point) but it seems like most of the cons you listed are the exact opposite result we have found at this point…

  69. Research studies aren’t always done well. I think this article does come across as alarmist and that is the last thing most parents need. We cannot prove that overuse of technology is a causal factor in mental illness, for one thing. Mental health diagnosis is a tricky business with many flaws. Many are misdiagnosed or have their diagnoses changed over time. It is also a process of assessing a clinical presentation, not a matter of determine cause – we just don’t know enough about the brain to accurately do that. For me, when I read statements like that it does taint the validity of the article. Just because you site studies, does not necessarily support the claim. One has to look at the funding sources, control groups, validity of measures, can the study be duplicated, etc.

    I think we are living in a very challenging time as parents….we don’t have outcomes to refer to in order to guide our decisions with technology use and our children. I like to think about what my children are missing out on during their screen time…socializing, daydreaming, creating, exploring….using a wider range of their senses to experience the world around them.

    I think many children who suffer from overuse of technology are also vulnerable to many other problems caused by their environment. If neglect is an issue, it isn’t due to technology but the particular circumstances in their environment. Narrowing it down to this one issue just doesn’t make sense. I think this holds true for many other problems that children experience – one factor is not necessarily a cause, but rather suggests multiple factors that might play a role in a child’s struggles.

    I think your colleague, Andy, is also dumbing this down to too basic of an argument. It isn’t just a matter of digital broccoli vs. digital candy…many other factors to consider in the behavioral, mental and physical health issues that children face.

    1. What would help you as a parent to make informed decisions regarding technology use by your children, and what tools or strategies would you need to help?

    2. Dumb down for sure with a lot of fear mongering ! I hope I don’t go crazy like all these people when I have kids haha. People are so afraid of everything. I’m just reading this for fun because it is entertaining to hear these crazy opinions from all these small minded individuals who are really trying to sound really really really smart when they speak but you just can’t help but smell crazy in the air

    3. Barbara, you are entirely correct, not all research studies are performed well. That is why in the scientific field, research papers are subjected to something called a peer review” which basically means that every other scientist in the world who works in that field is invited to review your work and check it for error. No research paper can be published in a scientific peer reviewed journal, which are the only trustworthy sources of scientific information, without going through the peer review process. It is this process that guarantees scientific research has been performed and reported on in the correct manner.

      This goes in some way to helping you with your next statement about not having outcomes to refer to in order to guide your decisions with technology use and children. The reports about outcomes you are talking about are exactly what is contained in the scientific research. Scientists perform these experiments and them report on them for that exact reason.

      I implore you only to trust information contained in peer reviewed research papers and disregard the information you get from any other source. The purpose of referencing an article such as this one is so that you can actually go and read the information for yourself. If you’re reading an article that serves to give information in any scientific field, make sure that it is fully referenced, and even go so far as to read the abstract at the beginning of the research papers which they cite. The abstract gives a very brief overview of the research conducted and is written in a way that gives a good overview of what experiment was conducted and it’s results.

      Of course there are other factors that are important in child development, but it would be impossible to name them all in one article. What have you got to lose by looking at the original research papers cited in this article other than learning something about the impact of personal entertainment devices on child development.

  70. Some interesting points, but overall this just reads as a very haphazard compilation of possibilities than anything approaching “evidence” or “reasons.” The sources cited are so disparate and disjointed that it feels like the author sought “proof” to fit her hypothesis, from wherever it could be found and taken out of context.

    I would tend to agree with the others that real research is what is needed for these areas, very little of which is discussed here. You can’t get very far with trusting what the American Academy of Pediatrics says – they are still recommending mass-produced dairy milk for children, which is already known to contain carcinogens and an array of hormones which may be harmful.

      1. Precisely my point. I mean no disrespect, but your research methodology is completely opaque and therefore just comes across as a smattering of citations which seem to have little in common, other than that they serve to help explain your hypothesis. I would share the hypothesis that an over-exposure to multimedia stimulation is harmful for cognitive development and a host of other issues, but it’s hard for me to derive value from your conclusions when it’s entirely unclear how you arrived at them. For example, Princeton Univ. has been conducting thorough reviews on effects of over-exposure to various wireless signals, concluding a failure to determine causality of health problems. But none of that is cited here. How did you choose what you included in your fact sheet? What criteria drove your search? That description of your process would make it worthwhile; otherwise it just reads like a long blog post.

        1. I’m a clinical pediatric occupational therapist and biologist, and have worked with children for the past 26 years. About a decade ago I came to the realization that we were actively diagnosing problematic child behaviours as mental illness. I thought this was wrong, and prevented proper care. I started asking these children how much technology they were exposed to, and found it was high. I knew nothing at the time about the impact of technology on child behaviour, so I started collating research, primarily through journal reviews, but also by attending conferences, courses, and now, as a member of a number of advocacy organizations promoting education, research, and treatment of technology addictions. It was as if I were putting the pieces of a complex puzzle together, and still does, as tech overuse impacts so many areas of function. I’ve just finished delivering educational workshops in four First Nations communities for parents , health and education providers sponsored by a grant from our local health authority. This project resulted in my most recent initiatives of creating a program called Crash-N-Bump which is a full day of rough and tumble play in the local hall on really cool and fun gym equipment. Whole families and classrooms attend, and are regularly getting 100 kids per week in a community of 1000 people. I’ve concluded that the way out of the mess we are in with rampant tech overuse by families, is to create really awesome play spaces eg playgrounds nature parks, trails, and build stuff for parents and teens as well. Will carry on collating research and doing educational workshops, in the hope that through creation of teams of concerned people, we can discover what it really means to be a parent, a teacher, a therapist. That it’s not about pathologizing and medicating children, or about handing little children devices who really need caring and a hug. Thank you for you interest in what drives me to do what I do.

  71. This conversation highlights an interesting conversation with Chris Rowan and clearly demonstrates that the general public has little understaning of scientific literacy nor the ability to determine whether a claim is true or false. I think the only way we will ever address this is to revist K-12 science curriculum.

  72. I’m a Montessori teacher trainer, qualified to work with children ages 3-6, 6-12, and 12-15. I had 21 years of classroom experience prior to working with adults for the last 5 years. In this article, and in the responses, I see echoes of dozens of hard conversations I’ve had with parents over the years, about possible reasons why their child doesn’t form friendships, can’t read, can’t sustain attention, behaves aggressively toward other children, is easily frustrated, has low problem-solving abilities, shows poor hand-eye coordination, doesn’t want to play at recess, has delays in fine or gross motor development, seems uncomfortable outside, doesn’t communicate much with the other children or with me, and doesn’t seem interested in anything in our lively, enriched, mixed-age classroom in which we invite open-ended exploration on topics of interest, and usually don’t test. Over and over again I would invite parents in to see what such a community of children looks like, working and playing and learning together, with little or no technology (I recommend to my teachers-in-training that they have NO tech in their classrooms for children under 9, and only limited for 9-12–usually one or two computers shared by the whole class). Parents were amazed at what these children could do, and how deeply invested they were in their own lives, not virtual lives…they wanted that for their own children. It’s not easy to get children off of a diet of technology–but it’s worth it.

    We had very little research ‘back in the day’ to support what we were suggesting to parents, but we had our own observations and experience, and we invited parents to look at what we were doing and decide for themselves. Nowadays with more research available, we see an increase of parents who chose Montessori because they’ve done their own research and want a tech-free haven for their children’s early development. We also see–and work with–many parents who are astonished that their 13 year old is harmed by texting all night or eating with her laptop open in front of her or watching porn for hours a day.

    I have no research to cite here other than my own experience: When introduced judiciously, at developmentally appropriate times, technology is easily mastered by children and adolescents who grew up without it. Their protected development makes them more able to use technology in positive, healthy ways and avoid the negative effects that happen when it’s too much, too soon. Both of my daughters, and many many many of my students, when first given monitored, measured access to cell phones and laptops and iPads and social media in middle or late adolescence, quickly learned everything there was to know (far surpassing my own skill!) and “fit in” with their peers in the positive ways that tech can support. As for the argument that early exposure to tech is necessary to be competent and competitive in today’s world, there’s no reason to think that the tech of today will look anything like the tech twenty years from now. What we need for our children to be competent is for them to be well-rounded, healthy, mature, sensible, emotionally connected, flexible, adaptive, compassionate individuals. Screens can’t raise our children to those heights.

  73. I understand and I agree that technological devises, gaming, TV, and everything in life can become an addiction. I, however, disagree that it should not be allowed to be used by children. I believe that their are many advantages to technology I am a husband, a father of two, a Veteran of the USMC, a Realtor, I have owned my own business, and I am currently in school to obtain my teaching degree. What I see is a failing education system in America. Teacher are being told what children need to learn rather than teaching children how to learn. Students are steered to take specific classes but never have that opportunity to choose what they are interested in. And in the words of Sir Ken Robertson, we are killing the creativeness that kids possess. With the failed Governmental plans for better education for all, teachers across this country are failing to reach all students.
    With this said, I believe that teachers need every available tool to assist them in teaching. I am proud to say that my son’s 1st grade teacher also sees the advantages of using technology in the classroom and she managed to obtain a grant to get 6 I-pads for her classroom. As I stated earlier, I have 2 kids, a 9 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. They both speak 2 languages fluently, they are well adjusted , play well with familiar and unfamiliar kids, they do exceptionally well in school, they participate in after school activities like art, music, karate, soccer, gymnastics and dance. They have had access to hand held devises, not only for fun but also for educational purposes. They each have many apps that have helped them with math, reading, vocabulary, science and technology. They also have access to a PC for the same purposes, they also watch various TV programs.
    So, aside from medical issues that may or may not arise from the use of hand held devises, I do not believe that they should be demonized as a mental/social/cognitive destructive devises.

    1. Please explain then why both Canada and the U.S. have declined significantly in math and literacy scores over the past decade with the onset of computer use in the classroom. Children are increasingly put on computerized math programs, which is not evidence based, and goes against all logic. It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that math requires the mind to think in the third dimension. The 2D screen world is about memorizing symbols, which limits extrapolation from the basic concepts. Literacy? Children are not taught to print, which results in a frustrated child who struggles in every subject. Steven Graham reported in 2008 that instruction time for printing in grades K-3 dropped from 60 minutes per day in the 70’s to 13 minutes per day. Slow printers have to think about how to make their letters and numbers, where to start, which way to go, when to turn. This takes up mental energy that could be used to spell, do math, or form a sentence. A third reason Canada and the U.S. are underperforming in education is the overuse of technology by society as a whole, resulting in soaring rates of attention deficit and problematic behaviors. Want to up math scores and literacy? Toss the technology, and get back to the basics of teaching math concepts in the 3D, as well as teach students how to print. Up the recess and access to green space, and decrease attention deficit.

  74. I’m amused by the people who feel that their actions alone disprove the entire article. Yes, you may break the mold of the article in every way, but there will always be exceptions. No report or study can account for every single person in existence. Like it or not, these stats are based on factual research. Ultimately, technology isn’t a babysitter. My 3 and 5 year old both know how to use the basic functions of a tablet but its very basic. They can swype through photos and play a couple games. But their days are spent playing Barbie’s, not seeing them on a 2D device. My daughters only watch TV if they are sick or its too bad to be outside. You know what she would rather be doing? Swimming, playing dress up, spending time with daddy, making arts and crafts. Outside the tablet their imagination is endless where as with tech its limited to the programming.

    However, on a side note: daddy is really sick right now so as I type this, she’s laying in bed watching my little pony for a bit until I get up. But again, its going to be less than 30 minutes.

    1. You, my friend, are not who I was considering when calling for a ban on the use of handhelds by 0-12 year old children. As my friend Andy Doan pointed out, there are many reasonable parents and teachers who use technology judiciously, and know the benefits and risks, On the other hand, 40% of adults use over 11 hours per day of entertainment tech, and many schools have put iPads in the hands of every child. With declining literacy and math scores, we must realize this isn’t working for all children.

  75. I’m teacher – both in the classroom and in private music lessons. I’m also a parent of a child with Asperger’s. My son never saw a TV on until he was at least 2, and to this day we do not have cable. Children who already have issues with empathy do not need to be fed a diet of non-reliastic situations which have no real-life consequences. I’m appalled by the tech that young children are allowed to engage in. One year after Christmas break I discovered that 7 out of 15 of my K-5ers received ipads for Christmas. I’m still floored by that. What are they getting when they turn 16? We’ve upped the anty, and now it’s an entitlement that has made our children discontent with the simple pleasures in life. It’s a HUGE problem, but it’s much harder to go “backwards” than to prevent it in the first place. I wish all parents could see the value in denying their children these addictive things. And yes, for many, it IS an addiction.

    1. I and my brother… and my dad have HFA. While this is 100% anecdotal, well, computers if all sorts have helped me a lot. From forming bonds with people over video games (try a session of family/friend super mario 🙂 great relationship building) to learning a great deal about computers (It all started when I tried to get Minecraft working on a netbook, no small feat I assure you). And for some non-speaking AS people, AAC can be a life saver. I think it matters how you use computers, and it’s impossible to ban them altogether (kids can just go and use someone else’s computer, or smuggle, hide… like candy…). Responsible and conscientious use, not prohibition.
      Btw, not all tablets are Ipads. They’re tablet. Or Microsoft’s Surface Pro. They’re not all made by apple. And other improper term use:
      Technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
      I think what this article refers is just consumer grade equipment with functioning microprocessors. Consumer grade computers. Not technology, because our toilets are technology too. (And I wouldn’t recommend bans on that), as are other things. Whew.

      1. Hi Olivia,
        A proposed causal model for autism is excessive early screen exposure at 3-6 month of age (see Heffler 2015 reference on Zone’in Fact Sheet http://www.zonein.ca). Heffler et al proposes that infants placed in front of TVs, wire their brains differently, to prefer screens to social interactions with humans. While you speak positively about screens, the virtual world is devoid of many of the things that bring joy to humans. Touch, connection, movement, and nature are 4 critical factors for optimizing child development, behaviour, and learning…all of which are diminished with screen use. While the real world might be fraught with disappointments and challenges, these are the very things that make us try harder and gain skills necessary to accomplish life’s daily tasks. Escaping into the virtual world might offer momentary relief, but will never provide sustenance for long term happiness.
        Cris Rowan

        1. Did you know that when one gathers together with family and friends in the same room to play a multi-player video game on the same screen, it’s not just escaping into a virtual world because those other people still exist despitbthe screen?

          In fact, I’m a real human being who exists too, even though you’re reading my words on a screen.

  76. I love TV and I would watch it all day if I subscribed to cable. I got sick of wasting so much of my life on stupid television. So now we don’t have TV service, and I haven’t had TV service for over ten years.

    As a result, my 5-year-old has never watched commercial TV at home. He doesn’t know any of the cartoon characters except vicariously through his friends. He doesn’t know the names of junk foods sold at the grocery store. I am really enjoying this time of not arguing with a child who wants all the material goods offered on TV.

    Furthermore, when we travel, watching TV is a huge treat for him. If we are in a hotel, we might come back from our day’s activities and turn it on to find a nature show or something else to watch together. Since we are in the hotel room, we all watch a show that we can monitor, changing the station if it is not appropriate. This makes the TV a very special treat that we enjoy together.

    Anyway, I am not saying this to brag about how much I hate TV. I love TV. I love it so much, I know I should not have it in my home. As a result of NOT being addicted to TV anymore, I feel better about myself. Removing TV (and the cost of the service) has made a huge difference in my life and my family’s life. I still watch videos on my computer, but not for hours and hours per day, but a few hours per week catching up on two shows. We don’t have the TV on as background noise, as we often did when I was growing up. There are no commercial jingles running through my head all the time.

    Now I need to work on reducing my computer / iPhone time!

    1. that’s awesome! I’m starting to think of doing the same thing. I have the tv on as background. We subscribe to Netflix, but as the computer is being the source of entertainment, I’m more cautious about it than about the tv. I’m very worried about them stumbling upon graphic material of any type, so I watch them more closely when they’re on it. And I limit their time on it. You have talked me into disconnecting tv! 🙂
      On another note, I will not give my kids cell phones until they are older. After all, my family only invested in a computer with internet when I was 17. (1998) Maybe because of this late introduction I’m not super attached to it (??)
      Giving kids different technologies has also taught them to want instant gratification. (Ever hear kids– or anyone!– start freaking out when they don’t have enough bars, Wi-Fi, fast enough service, even something just loading!) There have been studies on this but don’t know where to find it right now.

  77. My son has Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and a sensory processing disorder. As a result he was give various handheld technologies as assistive technology. He can read because of his device, he is learning to use it to regulate (visual timers, countdown cool off apps for aggression), and it helps him not shift, fidget, and slam himself around for sensory feedback as the stim is provided by the books and lectures he listens to. If I took that away I would be closing his world, not opening it…

    A good researcher acknowledges and discloses their bias, not rabidly denies it.

  78. You can’t stop technology. Haven’t you seen Apple’s profits? There are less teachers in schools to make way to pay for all the iPad s that have been placed in school. I can’t believe Apple won’t get sued someday for all the money they have made off of education and our children.

    1. They will be sued…I can guarantee it. To continue to produce products that studies have demonstrated pose harm to children, and not even put safety warnings on their products, is a class action law suite just waiting to happen.

      1. Strange logic indeed! There will be no law suit, no tarnishing of Apple’s image, or much else in that vein. School jurisdictions (more decentralized in US than in Canada, but comparable) make and negotiate these procurements themselves, to compete better among themselves. Apple, like all other tech vendors, indemnifies itself from the outset. The only logical approach to changing practice in ed. tech is in proving (i.e. not speculating, as most of this article does) that an alternate solution is a better approach. The best teaching in the world doesn’t rely on technology much at all (see Finland’s PISA & TIMMS scores) – it relies on the competitive nature of a high-status teaching profession and commensurate salary.

  79. Hello,

    While I respect everyone’s opinion and don’t want to cause offence, I strongly disagree with this article. I would also like to point out that the author makes a number of unsubstantiated or disproven claims, as well as some very questionable interpretations.

    First of all, I have a strong interest in computers and turned 19 on February 9th. And with that out in the open I might as well just stop writing right now. A major problem I have with the article, is that it essentially invalidates my opinion due to my proximity to the suspect demographic. The article implies that as a teenager damaged by and dependent on technology, I cannot legitimately make responsible choices on my use of technology or have a valid opinion on technology. In fact, I cannot have a valid opinion on anything, really. I’m afraid that I find this rather offensive.

    Admittedly I am slightly outside the demographic, but I was a minor until recently and I have many friends who are under 18. And ultimately, it seems to me that whether one is outside the demographic or not is unimportant as the article suggests that technology use causes lasting harm. It boils down to “older generations are innately better than younger generations, because they were not subjected to harmful influences.” This evaluates to “their opinions are more valid”. Of course, this is my own interpretation, and Cris Rowan, as a child development expert, may well be aware that many issues and developmental disorders in childhood, improve or correct themselves by the time the child reaches adulthood.

    My primary issue with the article is its extremely, I would say dangerously, simplistic attitude towards the digital world. I think it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature and possibilities of digital media. Essentially, the author seems to lack any concept of computers serving any purpose except mindless entertainment.

    I am currently awaiting responses to my applications to a variety of post secondary comp-sci programs. My interest in computer science actually stems largely from my artistic and creative interests. I see the computer as a tool for creative expression immeasurably greater and more empowering than anything before in the history of creativity. Something that will become even greater as the digital becomes more integrated with our physical everyday lives. A basic 8-bit digital image supports around 17 million possible colours. That is a gigantic box of crayons, and I don’t think it is right to forbid children from using them.

    I also take issue with the suggestion that technology plays a role in autism. Such views are pseudoscientific and have been repeatedly disproved.

    1. <>

      I think therein lies your answer, you see technology as a tool and using the right tool for the right job at the right time works great.

      While computers may make beautiful digital images, do they have the heart and soul of something like the Mona Lisa….
      BTW how many colours can the human eye detect?

  80. I have seen it first-hand with our son. His interaction with people has gone downhill….we pay so much attention to him and are always trying to get out and do activities. He had been allowed to spend way too many hours a day on video games and also hand held devices and then we started noticing his change in behaviour gradually. He has lost interest in communication, which is very sad to see. He is depressed when he is not allowed to have any hand held devices or video games, he is literally down and just empty and void of happiness. He has a loving home and everything he needs…lots of awesome extended family and friends. When he got his 3DS nintendo hand held game system he was able to get online (we didn’t even think to check if he could get on the internet, we thought it only played games). One day a year after he got it, I went to look at it to play a game and see if it was fun, anyways….I realised it had the internet symbol, clicked on it and saw he had been watching porn for the whole year. He was 10 1/2 when he got it. We banned him from video games etc after we found out. Now he keeps stealing hand held devices from family and friends. He is addicted for sure. It is sad that he relies on this type of entertainment and that through it he was able to see porn at such a young age. We are now well aware of where we went wrong. His communication and mental health has suffered. I have no articles to support this claim. I do know he went from a happy bubbly 9 year old to a depressed 11 1/2 year old, who has little to no interest in other goals or hobbies. When we start playing lego or board games or tennis he does get into it. But he doesn’t think he is capable of acheiving big things. I believe if he had had more time away from vudeo games he would have developed more confidence in his abilities and more of a passion for life. And we are at fault for that. If you use these devices as learning aids let them be just that, an aid…not a crutch or babysitter. 20 mins a day for learning or so..they need time to explore and communicate with humans and develop a passion for life and explore hobbies. We can only pray now that the damage can be undone. I should mention he is very smart…but his grades have suffured

    1. My heart goes out to you and your son. I have a client who is 10 who just finished a successful unplug detox. He told me that when he plays video games he feels powerful, in control, but when he goes to school, he feels like a failure. We need to help our children discover new activities, and help them build skill. Everyone is good at something, we just need to help them figure out what. Check out Barstarzz, a movement sweeping Europe where youth do calastenics using bars. Doesn’t require a lot of skill, releases a lot of pent up energy, and not buckets of $$ to put up in Neighborhood parks.

  81. Where are the articles that you referenced in the story? Can you put the names of the articles and which refereed Journals they appear in so that we can read them? Thanks.

  82. I’ve found this article (and it’s sources) to be of great interest; I am a 17 yr-old A-Level student, studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Geology, with expected grades varying from B to A* respectively. I, and my friends (who study sciences similarly) are all like this, but spend most of our free time online, often playing ‘Violent Video-Games’ (which I don’t feel so inclined to list here, for the sake of sensibility). None of us suffer from any of the problems which have been listed, but it is a good group of around 5 of us. Does that make us all ‘Outliers’ in the Correlations which have been citated, or are the Correlations and their evidence simply not examples of repeatable ‘experiments’ (for lack of a better term)?

    1. Do you think it’s healthy to spend all your free time playing video games? What about sports, dating, camping, riding bikes, travelling, etc? There’s a whole world out there man! Don’t you want to go explore it?

  83. I have to disagree with some of this. I think you need to choose what they watch on tv and play on the iPad and yes to limit there usage. But if they don’t use hand held devices until they are 4 they will be behind in technology and that’s the world they are growing up in. There are tones of very educational games out there. And as for tv k could count to 10 in Spanish before she could in English at 2 1/2 because of Dora and Diego she can speak and know more words in Spanish then I do. I don’t think theirs anything wrong With that. But I think the most important think a parent can do with their child is read to them as much as you can!

    1. Why do you think your child will be behind, if not allowed to use handheld devices until age 12? Not using handhelds makes it much easier for parents and teachers to ensure appropriate tech use. Many of the “educational” Apps just entertain kids, and while may entice early reading (there are some studies showing this is a benefit), when weighing the downside and risk e.g. sedentary, overstimulating, isolating, the benefits are few and far. Four critical factors for the developing child are movement, touch, human connection, and nature. When children get loads of these, and stay under the 1-2 hours per day of tech, the child will grow up happy, healthy, and able to learn. Today’s child is growing up attention deficit, angry (why shouldn’t they be, many are neglected by parents who are attached to their own devices), depressed, anxious, and very sad. You are bang on about reading to your children, as reading is the most salient determinant for literacy. Why not take a book to the park…

      1. This is a world of technology. If we want to reach our kids in high school and college, we have to learn, understand, and embrace the technology they are growing up with. My grandson, almost 8, has used a DS handheld since the age of 5. The games he had helped him learn about DNA, geography, history, physics. He would ask questions, we would answer them. He asks questions and sees his parents and myself go to the internet if we don’t find the answer. He has learned about trajectory from playing Angry Birds. Public television and shows on Nick Jr. helped him with early math and reading. Delay literacy?! The child has read the entirety of the Harry Potter series – on his own. And yes, he’s read and understood it, as evidenced by his questions. What is this word? What is that word? Does this mean such-and-such?
        As for parental engagement – as another commentor noted, in the days when there was a parent at home, when families could easily make it on one income, moms shoved us out the door for the day. There was no parental involvement! There was, “Go find something to do, and be home by dark.” We were not overscheduled with activities, we were outside. On our own. Unsupervised. All day. No cell phones to track us down with either. This era of ‘parental engagement’ has spawned a generation of young people who don’t know how to entertain themselves, or put in work to gain something they want. I taught them at the college level. I was able to reach them though, because I did not eschew technology. I found youtube videos that illustrated points made in lecture. I integrated South Park into my Sociology classes. My students got it. I used their language to communicate with them.
        I always connected technology to parenting. We had a computer from the time my kids were 1 and 3. They played Reader Rabbit, and Math Blaster. They made calendars for grandparents at Christmastime with an art program. One graduated from University of Michigan at 20. Slouch. Ruined kid. Terrible parenting! I allowed them technology!
        They watched tv. As did I in the 70s! I watched a ton of TV! Safely graduated college, got married, had kids, lived a productive life, and lo and behold, never got incarcerated for violent behavior!
        This is scare tactic propaganda on the order of ‘vaccines are terrible for your children’! As though measles is better!
        Yes they will be behind if they don’t have access to technology! They absolutely will. Seeing that is what shifted my views when it came to my grandson. Heck, I’ve even sat down to play Mario Brothers with him. I suck at it, but I try. The world is different. We cannot keep kids in our world. We have to help them live in theirs.

        1. Teachers still grade children < 12 years based on written output, but have curtailed printing instruction down to < 13 minutes per day (S. Graham 2008) in the K-3 grades. These children laboriously struggle with any subject that requires printing (which is most subjects), as they don't have subconscious motor production for letters and numbers, and have to think about where to start, when to turn, which way to go. When children don't know how to print, they are illiterate, and do poorly in every subject. "We were outside. On our own. Unsupervised. All day. No cell phones to track us down with either." Today's child spends 95% of their time indoors, sedentary, in front of a screen emanating EMF, and blasting intense visual imagery and auditory noise, predominantly of a violent content, and mind numbing (to say the least). I'm not saying to not allow children technology. I'm saying that the handheld devices have opened up a whole new world for our very young and rapidly developing brains, and are being overused in homes and schools. In 2010 pre-iPad/Pod days, children were using 7.5 hours per day entertainment technology. It's likely half again that much now. Not good.

          1. First, I am a huge advocate of the moderation of kids sitting idly in front of screens – I am a volunteer youth basketball coach. Second, I am a huge advocate of technology that is fun and educational for kids – I am the founder of a tech startup which does exactly that – create web and mobile apps for kids that is fun for them and is purposely educational (used for a well defined purpose in the framework of classroom teaching). I purposely don’t name the company because this is not a ploy to plug our company.
            That being said, I am confused by some of the grand statements and I would love to get some clarity around them. “Banning” handheld devices – why allow 1 or 2 hours, but ban the main devices of the future to consume technology? (soon even TV will be consumed mainly from handheld devices. )
            95% of their time indoors! Ok, 30-50% because young children sleep 8-10 hours. Another 20-25% goes to school time (in classroom). Some time has to be attributed to being indoors eating a meal with your family, sore you then implying that all the rest of the time is used in front of a screen? Maybe for some, but still this is not anywhere close to 95% of their time sedentary in front of EMF blasting screens. That leaves only 25-50% of their 24 hour day left.
            So my question/concern/confusion is: how can I use these comments to make an informed decision? These statements make the article (and/or you) less credible for me. I think you have some very valid and interesting points, but where does one draw the line with such grand and blanket statements? Our kids definitely do not sit idly in front of any kind of tech screens indoors for 95% of their time.
            Please help a confused tech father how to understand your goal with this article. Thanks.

    2. I’d have to disagree with you on this. I think children don’t really need to use any kind of device until they’re 12. I was a 90s kid and didn’t even use the internet until I was 11; the internet was fairly well developed even during the beginning of the 90s, even though it was mostly limited to dial-up. I also didn’t get my own cellphone until I was in college and that was a fairly basic phone. Now I have a decent amount of technology at my fingertips and I have never had a problem learning how to use it. Actually, I feel that I have the appreciation of life without technology while still being tech savvy. In fact, I probably know more about technology than people younger than me who have always had technology available to them. Kids are able to figure out technology fairly quickly. I see nothing wrong with waiting until they are 12.

    3. I don’t think they will behind for 2 reasons.
      1. They will develop the capacities needed to be able to learn, and then can use the ‘devices’ as tools for learning.
      2. In 5 years the hand held devices will be completely different than they are now – perhaps even unrecognizable for us now. Communications and information technology is moving so rapidly!

  84. Here is the article on research on brain neuron impacts should anyone want the information.
    Many people say.. Replication studies do not replicate this?
    OK then… where are the replication studies ? I would ask. As far as I can see….. when they
    cut open the small mammal brains, they find damage. Clearly we are not going to cut open
    children’s brains. Perhaps we should be.
    The real question to ask yourself is ” Why our our governments NOT putting billions of dollars
    into research? Why aren’t we waiting until research is done before rolling out radiation exposures such as wireless ipads in the school?
    What has gone wrong in our society that children are treated like guinea pigs?

    http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=6017465635August 15, 2013
    Comment Filed by:
    Professor Dr. Suleyman Kaplan,
    Department of Histology and Embryology,
    Kurupelit, Ondokuz Mayis Universitesi,
    55139 Samsun, Turkey
    ET Docket Nos. 03–137 and 13–84; FCC 13–39
    I am currently Editor of the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, President of
    the Turkish Society for Stereology, Director of Health Sciences Institute and Head of the
    Department of Histology and Embryology at Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun,
    I have conducted research in Neurology for over twenty years. I received my M.Sc. in
    1987 and my PhD in 1991 from the Dept. of Histology and Embryology, Medical School,
    Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun, Turkey. The title of my PhD thesis was “Neuronal
    asymmetry in the hippocampus of 4 and 20 weeks old male and female rats.” I have been
    a Professor since 2000 at the Dept. of Histology and Embryology, Medical School,
    Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun, Turkey. My research and professional experience
    focuses on Stereology, Obesity, Neurotoxicity, Peripheral nerve regeneration, and
    Electromagnetic fields (EMF).
    I have helped produce four research reports showing that exposure to 900MHz
    EMF significantly damaged neuronal development in the rat brain. These published
    studies include:
    • Chronic prenatal exposure to the 900 megahertz electrical field induces pyramidal
    cell loss in the hippocampus of newborn rats (Bas et al., 2009)
    • Effects of prenatal exposure to a 900 MHz electromagnetic field on the dentate
    gyrus of rats: a stereological and histopathological study (Odaci, et al., 2008)
    • Purkinje cell number decreases in the adult female rat cerebellum following
    exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic field (Sonmez et al., 2010)
    • 900 MHz electromagnetic field exposure affects qualitative and quantitative features
    of hippocampal pyramidal cells in the adult female rat (Bas, et al., 2009).
    Summary of Related Research
    Effects of prenatal exposure to a 900 MHz electromagnetic field on the dentate
    gyrus of rats: a stereological and histopathological study. Prenatal exposure to
    900MHz EMF fields affect nerve cell development in the rat brain. The research report
    details how prenatal 900 MHz exposure caused a statistically significant decrease in the
    number of granule cells in the dentate gyrus of rat offspring. These neurons are an
    important source of inputs to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a part of the brain
    that controls behavior and cognitive functions such as spatial learning and working
    memory. For this study we used state of the art high precision design based stereological
    techniques to investigate the impact of 900 MHz exposure on pregnant rat offspring.
    We found that exposure caused a progressive postnatal decline in the number of granule
    cells of dentate gyrus. This suggests that exposure during critical periods of embryonic
    development damages the normal rat hippocampus development and exposure may also
    induce neurodevelopment retardation. While animal studies cannot be directly
    translated to humans, this research would correspond to the third trimester in a human
    pregnancy. This research showed neural cell loss in the dentate gyrus due to prenatal
    electromagnetic exposures.
    Chronic prenatal exposure to the 900-megahertz electrical field induces pyramidal
    cell loss in the hippocampus of newborn rats.
    Prenatal exposure to 900 MHz decreases pyramidal cells in the hippocampus. This
    research report details how pregnant rats were exposed to 60 minutes of 900 MHz EMF
    fields a day for the duration of their pregnancies and later the brains of their offspring
    were analyzed at four weeks old using the optical fractionator technique. The exposed
    offspring showed a significant reduction in the total number of pyramidal cells.
    The pyramidal cells are located in the cornu ammonis of the hippocampus, which
    involves short-term memory and learning. This research suggests that electromagnetic
    fields could disturb the development of the cornu ammonis, which could result in
    impaired short-term memory and learning.
    900 MHz electromagnetic field exposure affects qualitative and quantitative features
    of hippocampal pyramidal cells in the adult female rat. 900 MHz EMF exposure
    induces neuronal damage and cell loss in the rat hippocampus. The report documents our
    research exposing female rats to 900 MHz from 12 weeks to 16 weeks of age.
    Stereological analyses using the optical fractionator technique were done blind to obtain
    unbiased results. The results showed a statistically significant decrease in the pyramidal
    cells of the hippocampus and also showed an increase in dark cells. This research again
    shows impacts on the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. Sixteen-weekold
    rats are comparable to the age of human teenagers.
    Purkinje cell number decreases in the adult female rat cerebellum following
    exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic field. 900 MHz EMF effects neuron number in
    the cerebellum. The cerebellum is a region of the brain that is thought to be involved in
    cognitive functions such as attention and language (and in regulating fear and pleasure
    responses) in addition to it’s role in motor control (coordination, precision and
    equilibrium). This research report documents our research on the effect of 900 MHz EMF
    on the number of Purkinje cells in the adult female rat cerebellum. Purkinje cells are
    important neurons in the cerebellum. In this study we exposed rats to 900MHz for one
    hour a day from 12 to 16 weeks of age and blind analyzed their Purkinje cells with the
    optical fractionator technique. Results showed the exposed rats had significantly lower
    total numbers of Purkinje cells in their cerebellum. This suggests that long-term
    exposures to 900 MHz EMF leads to decreases of Purkinje cell numbers in the female rat
    cerebellum. Sixteen-week-old rats correspond to human teenagers for developmental
    stage comparison.
    900 MHz EMF exposures at a SAR of 2W/Kg seem to have significant non-thermal
    biological effects. In the two research studies of 900 MHz exposures to the adult rat brain
    the specific energy absorption rate (SAR) varied between 0.016 (whole body) and 2W/kg
    (locally in the head). In the two research studies on prenatal exposure a 900 MHz
    continuous wave electromagnetic energy generator SAR of 2W/kG was used on the
    pregnant mice.
    This research provides useful data on the possible toxic effects of EMF exposure on the
    Central Nervous System during critical periods of brain development. We conducted our
    research with 900 MHz EMF based on the fact that so many mobile phones operate at
    this frequency. In our research, the body weight of the rats did not show any effects from
    exposure, so there was no outward visual abnormality. However, the significant negative
    impact on neuron production in the hippocampus and cerebellum raises serious questions
    about the possible non thermal effects of electrometric fields on the parts of the mammal
    brain that involve attention, learning and memory.
    The non-thermal biological effects of EMF exposure are of increasing concern
    to scientists. The research our lab has done fits into a larger context of research showing
    electromagnetic fields have adverse effects on animal tissue. (Dutta et al., 1989; Odaci et
    al., 2008; Bas et al., 2009a,b; Ragbetli et al., 2010, 2009; Ammani et al., 2010; Maskey et
    al., 2010). Several studies indicate that EMFs emitted by mobile phones could affect
    body tissue, systems and their physiologic activities (Mausset et al., 2001; Mausset-
    Bonnefont et al., 2004; Salford et al., 2003; Koyu et al., 2005; Yildiz et al., 2006;
    Manikonda et al., 2007).
    * * *
    Specific Comments on the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry
    In its Notice of Inquiry the FCC asks:
    “..whether its current limits are appropriate as they relate to device use by children.”
    (p.2, Item 53).
    The answer is a No.
    Current limits may not be appropriate as they relate to device use by children due to their
    vulnerability and developing bodies.
    Over the past few decades, several experimental studies have emerged which indicate
    electromagnetic fields could affect brain activity and neurons at the cellular level.
    The research from our laboratory shows that chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields can
    have long-­term effects in brain morphology.
    The use of mobile phones by children and teenagers deserves special concern because this
    group will experience much higher cumulative exposure to EMF than previous generations.
    Research on the mammal brain such as I have documented in this submission raises the question
    as to whether children and the developing fetus are more sensitive to EMF exposure than adults.
    The brain is particularly vulnerable during the growth process, which begins at conception and
    continues through the teen years.
    The research I have documented in rats corresponds to EMF exposure during the human developmental
    stages of the embryo and the teen years.
    Neuron production begins during gestation, through the early postnatal period and then continues
    at a slower rate into adulthood. Environmental insults during the early growth stages can have
    profound impacts later in life.
    While animal studies cannot be directly translated to humans, similar effects in humans would have
    far reaching consequences for future generations.
    B. On p.4, Item 63 of the Inquiry the Commission requests comment on “whether the
    Commission should consistently require either disclosure of the maximum SAR value or
    other more reliable exposure data in a standard format, perhaps in manuals, at point-of sale,
    or on a Web site.”
    Again, the answer is YES. Consumers should know the details of exposures that are
    possible from the phone or device they buy. Consumers should be provided with
    this information in order to make informed decisions.
    In the introduction to FCC 13-39 Section 5 Inquiry, the FCC asks, “whether our exposure
    limits remain appropriate given the differences in the various recommendations that have
    developed and recognizing additional progress in research subsequent to the adoption of
    our existing exposure limits.”
    The answer is NO. Recent research is raising questions as to the appropriateness of the
    current exposure limits. The research I have presented shows significant non-thermal
    biological health impacts from lower intensity electromagnetic fields. While further
    research is critical to fully understand the possible effects on brain development, this
    research adds to accumulating evidence that the current exposure levels may not protect
    from non-thermal biological health effects. Exposure limits should protect humans from
    adverse biological effects.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Dr. Suleyman Kaplan

  85. Thank you so much for this excellent post. It is unfortunate that people feel attacked by it. Positive parenting means tuning in to your child’s developmental needs. Technology can be a great tool, but it is also addictive and damaging in the way our society has rolled it out untethered by thoughtful norms or boundaries. Research shows damage to the hippocampus. What more is necessary to understand. That alone should get us parents in an uproar and it is interesting that instead parents respond with attacks. Could it be that we too are addicted… and blind?
    Please note this excellent article by the Vice President of Community Health for the Santa Clara American Medical Association. You can access it here.
    Here is the article. Shallow Minds:
    How the Internet and Wi–Fi in Schools Can Affect Learning
    By Cindy Lee Russell, MD
    VP-Community Health, Santa Clara County Medical Association
    Most of us cannot live without our computers, text messaging, e-mail, and immediate access to
    the vast cloud of information, especially kids and teenagers who have grown up in the age of the
    Internet. In fact, more schools are integrating computers at younger ages, even in kindergarten.
    Forty-nine states are phasing out cursive handwriting altogether. What effects does it have,
    however, on learning, brain development, cognition, and brain health? Studies have shown
    some interesting ways that technology is rewiring and shaping our brain, which may not be “all
    A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Internet, with its distractions and
    interruptions, is turning us into scattered, superficial thinkers. What does that portend for our
    Multitasking and Internet Addiction
    Nicholas Carr explains, in his book “The Shallows,” that we are changing the way we process
    information. “Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, educators, and Web
    designers point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that
    promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning….The Net
    delivers precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli-repetitive, intensive, interactive,
    addictive, that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alterations in brain circuits and
    Researchers from Stanford, in 2009, gave a battery of cognitive tests to a group of heavy and
    light media Internet multitaskers. They found that the heavy multitaskers were much more
    easily distracted by “irrelevant environmental stimuli” and had less control over their working
    memory. In addition, they were much less able to focus on a particular task. Professor Clifford
    Nass, who led the research, stated intensive multitaskers are “suckers for irrelevancy.
    Everything distracts them.” (5)
    “Teaching is a human experience. Technology is a distraction when we need literacy,
    numeracy, and critical thinking.” Paul Thomas, author and associate professor of education
    at Furman University
    Law School Professors Ban Laptops in Classrooms
    Several years ago, professors who were irritated with students surfing the Web and hiding
    behind laptop screens began banning the use of the Internet or laptops in the classroom. Laptops
    have been banned in classes at Harvard Law School, Yale, George Washington University,
    University of Virginia, and South Texas College of Law, to mention a few. (4)(15) A 2006
    study by Carrie Fried backed up the policies, demonstrating that students who used laptops in
    class spent considerable time multitasking. They more importantly found that the level of laptop
    use was negatively related to several measures of student learning. (3)
    A 2012 survey by Elon University, the Pew Internet, and American Life Project asked over
    1,000 leaders in the U.S. their thoughts about cognition in our millennial generation. They were
    asked to consider how the Internet and its environment are changing, for better or worse.
    Overall, the survey found that multitasking is the new norm and that hyper-connectivity may be
    leading to a lack of patience and concentration. The “always on” ethos may be encouraging a
    culture of expectation and instant gratification.
    Brain Maturation, Learning, Memory, and Intelligence
    The maturation of intelligence requires quiet, deep thought, and time. Established research
    findings in cognitive science leads to the conclusion that laptop use, especially with Wi-Fi
    access, could interfere with learning.
    The hippocampus, which lies under the cortex, is intimately involved in long-term memory
    storage. Initial experiences are stored and stabilized in the hippocampus and then later
    transferred to the cortex. Removal of the hippocampus does not affect long-term memories, but
    prevents new memories from forming.
    Learning depends on the ability to transfer information from our working memory to long-term
    memory and weave this into other acquired knowledge. There is a bottleneck in the passage of
    working memory to long-term memory. We have a limited ability as humans to capture and
    process information. The Internet provides too many choices and too much information at once.
    Excess distracting information creates “overload,” preventing long-term memorization and
    important information is lost. No one disagrees that we need to protect our memories. As
    author Nicholas Carr highlights, personal memory is not just for the individual to function, but
    it shapes and sustains our collective cultural memory.
    Brain Drain:
    Adverse Neurologic and Health Effects of Wireless Microwave Communications
    A growing body of peer reviewed research is showing neurologic damage to fetal brain and
    other systems from Wi-Fi and other microwave wireless sources. In a prior article, “Why-Fi: Is
    Wireless Communication Hazardous to Your Health?” in the Sept/Oct 2010 SCCMA Bulletin,
    the full range of effects of EMF from our cell phones and wireless devices was discussed. New
    basic science research in the last three years is confirming these findings. Initially, the
    Bioinitiative report of 2007 reviewed the biological effects of low level EMF. It found that there
    was clear evidence of adverse effects to living systems at current environmental exposures and
    at doses well below the threshold of the International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation
    Protection (ICNIRP) safety guidelines. Current microwave safety limits are based solely on the
    heating of tissue and do not take into account research showing negative biological effects on
    DNA, cancer, protein synthesis, skin tissue changes, sperm motility and viability, cognitive
    functioning, and disruption of the blood brain barrier.
    Current Research on Cognition and Wireless Communication
    Fetal Radiofrequency Radiation Exposure From 800-1900 MHz-Rated Cellular
    Telephones Affects Neurodevelopment and Behavior in Mice. Scientific Reports. March
    Aldad et al noted that neurobehavioral disorders are increasingly prevalent in children with 3%-
    7% of school-aged children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
    The etiology is unclear, however, an association between prenatal cellular telephone use and
    hyperactivity in children has been postulated by others. To test this, he exposed pregnant mice
    to cell phone radiation throughout gestation (days 1-17), with a sham cell phone control group.
    He found that the exposed group had dose responsive impaired neurologic transmission in the
    prefrontal cortex and that the mice exposed in utero were hyperactive and had impaired
    memory. He concluded “that these behavioral changes were due to altered neuronal
    developmental programming.”(3)
    Microwave Radiation Induced Oxidative Stress, Cognitive Impairment, and Inflammation
    in Brain of Fischer Rats. Megha. 2012.
    Megha evaluated the intensity of oxidative stress, cognitive impairment, and brain inflammation
    in rats exposed to typical cell phone microwave radiation. They were subjected to 900 and
    1,800 MHz EMF for two hours a day, for 30 days. They state, “Significant impairment in
    cognitive function and induction of oxidative stress in brain tissues of microwave exposed rats
    were observed, in comparison with sham exposed groups… Results of the present study
    indicated that increased oxidative stress due to microwave exposure may contribute to cognitive
    impairment and inflammation in brain.”
    Effect of Low Level Microwave Radiation Exposure on Cognitive Function and Oxidative
    Stress in Rats. Deshmukh. 2013.
    The author highlights the exponential increase in wireless communication devices we are
    exposed to. He evaluated the effects of cell phone radiation on oxidation in tissues, in addition
    to cognition in rats. They subjected rats to 900 MHz EMF for two hours per day, five days a
    week, for 30 days, with an unexposed control group. “Results showed significant impairment in
    cognitive function and increase in oxidative stress, as evidenced by the increase in levels of
    MDA (a marker of lipid peroxidation) and protein carbonyl (a marker of protein oxidation) and
    unaltered GSH content in blood. Thus, the study demonstrated that low level MW radiation had
    significant effect on cognitive function and was also capable of leading to oxidative stress.”
    The Internet Can Damage Teenage Brains
    A large radiologic study from China, published July 2011, looked at structural brain changes in
    Internet-addicted teenagers. It is estimated that 24 million teenagers are addicted to the Internet
    in China. The researchers found a consistent atrophy of grey matter in parts of the brain and
    shrinkage of the surface of the brain in those addicted to the Internet. The effects were worse the
    longer the addiction. In addition, the study revealed changes in white matter of the brain, which
    function to transmit messages in the brain to the grey matter. They concluded these structural
    abnormalities were most likely associated with functional impairments in cognitive control.
    “It strikes me as a terrible shame that our society requires photos of brains shrinking in order
    to take seriously the common-sense assumption that long hours in front of screens is not
    good for our children’s health. Dr Aric Sigman, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine
    WHO Classifies EMF as a Carcinogen
    In 2011, The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified
    radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based
    on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer1, associated with wireless
    phone use.”
    France Bans Wi-Fi in Schools, But Replaces With Ethernet
    The French National Assembly, March 2013, passed an amendment to ban Wi-Fi in their
    schools until it’s proven “safe for human consumption.” They instead agreed to install far safer,
    wired Ethernet cable connections.
    The Council of Europe has called for a ban on Wi-Fi use in schools and also recommends a
    wired alternative.
    In Austria, the Austrian Medical Society has also issued a policy statement asking for a ban of
    Wi-Fi in schools.
    The U.K. has a useful frequently-updated website on Wi-Fi in schools, which provides much
    scientific research. http://www.wifiinschools.org.uk/ Still the controversy persists.
    The Cost of a Virtual World
    There are a host of concerns with classroom technology, and the virtual world it creates, that
    have not been explored in the rush to “modernize” education and prevent our kids from
    becoming “computer illiterate,” despite the fact that computers are designed for ease of use.
    These issues range from distraction in the classroom, impairment of cognitive development and
    long-term memory, deficiency in learning social skills, Internet addiction, cyber bullying,
    access to inappropriate content, eye fatigue, and security risks to online learning networks. In
    addition, the sheer cost of computers and continuous upgrades is likely to break many school
    budgets. We have not mentioned the issue of toxic e-waste, another growing public health
    Common Sense
    We will not get rid of the Internet or computers. We should not ignore, however, the enlarging
    body of science that points to real threats to public health and, especially, our children’s safety
    and well-being. The best approach is precautionary. Reduce the risk by reducing the microwave
    emissions. It is our obligation as physicians and parents to protect our children. They are the
    future and our legacy.
    1. Remove wireless devices (white boards and routers) in schools in favor of wired
    connections and fiberoptic.
    2. If there is Wi-Fi, then give teachers the authority to turn it off when not in use or if they
    feel it is not necessary.
    3. Ban cell towers near or on schools.
    4. Limit screen time on computers.
    5. Limit or ban cell phone use in the class.
    6. Limit or ban cell phone use at home.
    7. Do not allow laptops to be placed on laps.
    8. Undertake independent scientific studies on Wi-Fi and computer use that look at acute
    and long-term health effects.
    9. Train teachers how to recognize symptoms of EMF reactions.
    10. Conduct meetings with parents and teachers to address this issue in each school.
    1. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Nicholas Carr. 2010.
    2. Generation Y: The Internet’s effects on cognition and education.
    3. In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Carrie B. Fried. Sept 2006.
    4. Banning Laptops in the Classroom: Is It Worth the Hassles? Kevin Yamamoto.
    5. Cognitive control in media multitasker. C. Nass.
    6. Fetal radiofrequency radiation exposure from 800-1,900 MHz-rated cellular
    telephones affects neurodevelopment and behavior in mice. 2012. Aldad.
    7. Effect of low level microwave radiation exposure on cognitive function and
    oxidative stress in rats. Deshmukh PS, 2013 April, Indian J Biochem Biophy.
    8. Microwave radiation induced oxidative stress, cognitive impairment and
    inflammation in brain of Fischer rats. Megha. Indian J Exp Biol. 2012,
    9. Prevention of mobile phone induced skin tissue changes by melatonin in rat: an
    experimental study. Ozguner FToxicol Ind Health. 2004 Sep;20(6-10):133-9.
    10. The effects of long-term exposure of magnetic field via 900-MHz GSM radiation
    on some biochemical parameters and brain histology in rats. Celikozlu SD.
    Electromagn Biol Med. 2012 Dec;31(4):344-55.
    11. France Bans Wi-Fi From Schools—We Should All Do the Same.
    12. High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain? Scientific
    American. June 17, 2011. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=doesaddictive-
    13. Too much Internet use can damage teenagers’ brain. Mail Online.18 July 2011.
    14. Wi Fi in Schools U.K. http://www.wifiinschools.org.uk/
    15. Wi Fi in Schools Australia. http://www.wifi-in-schoolsaustralia.
    16. Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls.
    17. A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute.
    18. Effects of the exposure to mobile phones on male reproduction: a review of the
    literature. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21799142
    19. Mobile phone radiation induces reactive oxygen species production and DNA
    damage in human spermatozoa in vitro.
    20. Evidence for mobile phone radiation exposure effects on reproductive pattern of
    male rats: role of ROS. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22897402
    21. Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) from cellular phones
    on human ejaculated semen: an in vitro pilot study.
    22. Rats Exposed to Cell Phone Microwaves Suffer Long-Term Memory Loss,
    According to New Study by University of Washington Researcher.
    23. Spatial memory and learning performance and its relationship to protein
    synthesis of Swiss albino mice exposed to 10 GHz microwaves.
    24. Alterations of visual reaction time and short term memory in military radar
    personnel. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23785684
    25. Relationship between cognition function and hippocampus structure after longterm
    microwave exposure. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22998825
    26. Impairment of long-term potentiation induction is essential for the disruption of
    spatial memory after microwave exposure.
    27. Influence of microwave radiation on synaptic structure and function of
    hippocampus in Wistar rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17535652
    28. A aquaporin 4 expression and effects in rat hippocampus after microwave
    radiation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20137298
    29. Relationship between millimeter wave irradiation in pregnant mice and c-Fos
    protein expression in hippocampus and learning and memory functions in their
    offsprings. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16405774
    30. Effects of 7 Hz-modulated 450 MHz electromagnetic radiation on human
    performance in visual memory tasks.
    31. Data Security Is a Classroom Worry, Too.

  86. I have 2 daughters ages 2 & 4. We do not have tv or tablets. We do have a computer and watch limited educational programmIng. Not every day, and for less than an hour a day that we do watch. I try to be pretty tight on it for them. My issue is my darned phone. I am constantly on facebook, email, texting, etc. I’m vey conscious of it and try to not let my kids see it, but they do. I’m modelling the opposite of what I would like to. Lately my 4 year old has had uncontrolled anger and tantrums. Your comments about failure of the primary attachment hit home and is breaking my heart. I’m the mom that stays at home with them! I will tuck my phone away and disconnect and reconnect with my kids. We have a wonderfu, fun and loving relationship and family, but the shoe fit. Any tips to mend the damage I’ve done? Thank you for your article.

    1. Building attachment is about being present, in the moment, with your children….but not all the time! See them, hear them, listen to their stories. Children need designated time with you, and then they also need to go off and entertain themselves, but without technology! Whenever my kids would say “I’m bored” I would say “You’re boring – go find something to do”. Putting the phone away is great, and making yourself available to your children for specified times during the day is a great attachment builder. Children don’t need you all the time, but do benefit from predictability and consistency e.g. “Not now, but in 15 min.”, and then be there for them in 15 minutes. I suggest to families that they create sacred times with NO TECH, and recommend and hour a day (dinner prep, eat, clean up), a day a week (Sat. – chores, family outing, sports), and a week a year (family holiday). I also recommend there are sacred spaces with no tech e.g. in the car, in the bedroom, at the table, in the restaurant, as these are places where family connection happens, and needs to be preserved for just that…connection. You are a brave soul, and thank you for your honesty and courage to disconnect, and reconnect with your children. They will LOVE you for it!

  87. Interesting comments and feedback thus far. In my profession, I have had the opportunity of meeting with many concerned parents, community professionals, and gamers alike to discuss Internet Gaming Disorders. The guidelines and suggestions as presented within this article are useful for generating dialogue and assist with informed decision making. Thank you Cris for sharing your research.

  88. My kids (2 boys, 12 and 7 years old) play video games, and both received Android tablets for Christmas. Both children are quite intelligent, and doing very well in school. The 12 is less social than the 7, but both get along well with others and have many friends. Given a choice activities during their unstructured time, they typically choose playing a video game or watching a video, but quite often they will choose to play with toys, go outside and play (swords/ guns/ on the trampoline/ whatever) with friends, or bike. We require them to go outside and play daily (weather permitting), and are not shy about removing ‘technology’ privileges as punishment for bad behavior or bad grades. We do monitor what they watch/ play.

    I think that there are two issues we need to be concerned with, one stemming from the other. The first is lack of active parenting; I see a distinctive difference in the interest level, involvement, and commitment of parents in modern society as compared to the past. I think this leads to problem #2, using technology as a baby-sitter/ replacement parent. This being said, parents need to deal with problem 1, and in doing so will diminish problem 2. We need to get back to being a family oriented society, spending our time with our children, teaching them both facts and values; we cannot simply rely on school and devices that keep our kids quiet to give them a ‘good’ upbringing.

    Rather than railing against technology, I think it would be more productive to promote positive parenting.

    1. I’m not against technology, but rather advocate for a concept I developed termed Balanced Technology Management, where parents manage balance between activities children need to grow and succeed, with technology use. Addressing your first issue (lack of active parenting) is a doosey. Having worked with many families with tech addictions, I do believe we need to look toward enhancing play environments, and make play more attractive to parents, to draw families off tech. Also see with the parents I work with that they can’t do what they weren’t taught, and therefore education is key.

  89. This made me have a headache… Basically what you are saying is that kids need to limit their time on technologies for what? Are you just jealous that you did not grow up with all the cool stuff that kids have today? Kids have this privilege of using technology because they are kids! Violent video games do NOT make kids violent, if the parents start forcing very childish games like freaking math games kids will get upset, not from GTA 5 or CoD but that parents censor everything. Its the 21st century, its the latest thing, kids want it. Some kids will even buy it themselves if they want it. I met this kid that saved nearly $500 just so he could buy the 3ds when it first came out. But later on it went on sale and he saved that money for the future. The only thing I will agree on is, no porn. That stuff is sexist and gross. So please if you want to do another thing like this, don’t say “it should be banned for kids under the age of twelve” because that can cause a giant fight between people. Most adults don’t understand how to deal with technology so they limit kids time on it. How about you take the time to learn about technology and get back to me. If you have kids you know you can block certain stuff, right? And that would end my rant. Sorry for being quite rude but honestly, grow up.

    1. I’ve a story for you. My son was 13 years old, about 20 years ago. He was sullen, belligerent, and kind of rude. He had a Commodore 64 computer on which he played Tetra’s and Pong, an Atari for video games, and a small TV for hockey. I set limits of 2 hours of “box time” per day, which he consistently ignored. I got upset one day, banging on his door and saying “What are you doing in there…I know you’re on tech…get off that stuff now!” (I was not what anyone would call a “cool” Mom). I finally lost it and cancelled the cable, and threw out my son’s TV, computer, and Atari. Yet, in my infinite wisdom as an occupational therapist, knew I needed to replace all the time Matt spent on tech, with something else, so gave him chores. I made him do his laundry, and cook one dinner a week. The rules were that on Friday nites, my son could invite anyone over he wanted, but they all had to cook dinner, and clean up after. His 2 best friends Jared and George told me they thought I was “really mean”, but they came over every week, as did quite a number of Matt’s other friends. Over the yeas this Friday nite dinner turned into quite an event, which included girls as the years went by, dressing up, elaborate menus, and quite a lot of fun. One of my son’s friends actually moved in with us for 6 months, without TV, computer, or video games, and he still stays with us from time to time to this day (still no cable, but have internet). So….parents, it’s not a bad thing to have tech, and it’s not a bad thing to go without. What’s important is to know when your child need something else e.g. socialization, friends, maybe you???

      1. Cris, I think you are awesome! All the parents who are complaining about this article are, in my opinion, just complaining because it’s easier after working all day, making dinner, cleaning the house, etc… to just say “sure, go play on the X-box” I grew up playing outside, I’m only 32, and I make my son go play outside every single day. he’s not allowed ANY video games during school nights, I make him read every evening, and yes- he also does his laundry (he’s 11) cleans his room & bathroom, plus a daily chore like dishes, or taking out the trash. I think your article is fantastic! if a child is using an I-pad to learn- great! but let’s be honest, that’s not the case very often and any parent who believes that is kidding themselves. That kid is playing flappy birds or whatever it is. If a parent feels the need to come on this site and bash the article that is simply saying kids should have tech limits- then they are obviously the parents that DON’T set those limits and feel like you are calling them bad parents. again that’s just my 2 cents. again your article is great Cris 🙂

      2. While I applaud the grips you personally took to more active parenting, I also think this article looks a bit shady, and the research shallow. While I do believe you are sincere in your wish to help parents and kids, and that your business offers a valuable service, you should take note that your academic references are untidy, and at the first glance, it seems somewhat unscientific and “alternative”.

        I think we have a lot to do here research-wise, and it would be harmful to put too many “reasons of why X is harmful” before it’s actually clear what’s going on. Focusing too much on the wrong thing can end up harming kids more than it helps.

  90. I am here because one sister-in-law posted this on facebook (she has three kids), and another sister-in-law is about to have her first kid, and both of them are the type to be taken in by this sort of nonsense.

    And it is nonsense. Most of it, anyway.

    A majority of the claims in this article are entirely unsupported. Simply having something to cite doesn’t make you correct, for example one time you cited the Vancouver Sun, claiming that the media is making reports on something. The media is not a terribly credible source, and simply saying they reported it doesn’t make it true. Oftentimes you cite yourself, which is clearly biased, when we want objective information. Other times you mention implications, such as “Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in [mental illness],” or that cell phones are a possible risk, or probably according to one person. Just because there is a possibility does not, again, make it true. Especially in the case of such low levels of radiation (come on, there are clearly tons of studies on exactly this, you couldn’t find any good ones?).

    Moreover, you make claims about violent video games which are clearly untrue. People have been making those claims about violent movies in the past, and violent books in the further past. We all know how to hurt and kill people, as we’ve all seen it many times and in many ways. In fact, thanks to programs such as CSI, we’re even probably pretty good at getting away with it. But, even though there are many people that I dislike in this world, I have yet to kill or cause serious harm to any of them. To give you some idea, I’ve been playing violent video games since I was 6 and Mortal Kombat came out (which was in ’92 — I’m 28 now if you want the math done). Anecdotal evidence? Yes, but because of my interests (which largely include video games), I have met many more gamers than you are likely to have, and not one of them has gone on a GTA style murderous rampage.

    Now, I will say that “overuse” can be a bad thing provided that it is framed properly. Your chart is laughable. Leaving a 4 year old with an ipad all day, every day, can’t be good for them. The same goes for turning on the TV (which from personal experience instantly zombifies any child). But having an ipad and letting them learn and play on it can be EXTREMELY beneficial for the development of logic and problem solving skills, as well as literacy and general knowledge. This use, of course, needs to be balanced with real world and spatial activities. Running around playing, building things with blocks, drawing pictures, and having real conversations. In other words, properly parenting your child. Technology is a great help, but is not the final and absolute solution so you don’t have to take responsibility for the kid you didn’t mean to have, or decided after was too much work.

    There is so much more to this that I could reply to, but I don’t have the time. Please don’t try to influence more people with your nonsense anymore. Thank you.

  91. I have been a teacher since the 70’s and now teach at a local university. I find it interesting that most of the proponents of gaming are males. I also witnessed more male gamers at an early age in elementary school than girls. Those girls that invested as much time as the boys playing games had less social interaction with other girls and overall had more attention problems. I have no scientific study here, but years of experienced teaching observations and a very good understanding of child development and academic expectations.
    I can tell you personally, that most of the women that I know that are in the 60+ age group would love to throw those hand held devices out of the window on most days. Get your children moving, drawing, thinking, playing, reading and creating.

    1. You know…I’m almost 60, and love my iPhone, but my brain is already developed, and I’m unlikely to radically change my neuronal wiring at this age. As my colleague Andrew Doan points out, if a child limits themselves to 2 hours a day of tech, as is recommended by experts, between the ages of 0-25 years, they will only use 10,000 hours of tech, and consequently rewire 10% of their brain. But children who use our national average of 7 hours per day, will use 35,000 hours of tech by age 25 years, and rewire 35% of their brains. That’s pretty significant.

    2. Umm, since when do games/screens not involve drawing, thinking, playing, reading and creating? I can list several games that are based around enhancing those qualities. For example, Someone with a creative imagination(I know, redundant) who can’t draw has almost no chance of succeeding in the world of art. But with technology, those so called “handheld devices”, this person can realize their full potential, becoming a brilliant graphic designer or an artist on a site such as devientart. You cannot play a game without thinking, and the majority of modern games are based around more advanced thought processes. And there are games that are in their nature more creative than anything you could possibly do in, for example, sports(see: minecraft https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmnoM5yoUcw&index=15&list=PL6C732E31C70607EF)
      There are also games made for young children which not only encourage reading, but actively teach them how to read.

      1. Tech isn’t bad, in fact there are many programs which can enhance child function, but need to be used in moderation, which they aren’t. We presently have one in three children entering school developmentally delayed (UBC EDI Mapping 2009/2013), one in four obese (Tremblay M 2011), one in six diagnosed with a mental illness (Waddell C 2007), and now one in eleven children addicted to tech (Gentile D 2009)…all as a result of tech overuse.

        At this point in time, parents should be thinking about whether their child is moving enough to prevent obesity and developmental delay, are they being touched and hugged enough to prevent anxiety and depression, are they spending enough time connecting and forming life sustaining attachments with their children, and are they getting their children outdoors enough to promote attention and learning. Movement, touch, human connection and nature are four critical factors for child development, learning, and behavior. Today’s tech child is sedentary, overstimulated, neglected, and isolated, resulting in above noted issues.

        Let’s start a discussion about what parents do to ensure children achieve adequate amounts of movement, touch, connection and nature, and then if the child has any time left in their day, what app or video games enhance academic performance, or literacy…although there presently isn’t any research showing they do anything other than entertain.

        Research references can be located on Fact Sheet under Info on http://www.zonein.ca.

  92. I think these types of articles are alarmist. The second sentence is says that parents who are going against these recommendations are having “serious and often life threatening consequences” on their children. OFTEN life threatening? Seriously?

    But what I hate most about all of these studies that prove our children are brain dead, couch potatoes always have the added thorn that it is because we parents are shirking our parental duties and flat out NEGLECTING our children.

    Did I grow up with an iPad? No. But most families could live a comfortable middle class life with only one parental income. That is not true to today, especially in the US. Not only do we expect to have more in our lives, we make less to achieve it with.

    But the unfair accusation does not end there. Yes we played out in the streets, but our parents didn’t. My mother used to stand on our front lawn and just shout my name. If I did that today, my neighbors would avoid me. Plus, with more working parents there are fewer around looking out kitchen windows to see what the kids were up to. Today, it is just not that common to see gangs of kids wandering around. And we they are seen they are generally assumed to be up to no good or even a threat.

    I take my kids to the park. I enjoy watching them climb the ropes and slide the slides, but it is not a great source of entertainment. They can stay for over an hour. Unless I have a friend to shoot the breeze with my threshold is 10 minutes tops. Then I am watching the seconds widdle away.

    My parents generation where sent out the door at breakfast and refused entry again until dinner time. They got for lunch what they could scrounge. Try that today and see how long it is before protective services are at your door.

    There is this idea that somehow these parenting styles were better back in the day. I don’t see that parents actually spent any more time with their kids. It is just that rather than being supervised, past generations were left to their own devices for better or worst.

    My kids use electronic devices because they like them, I have control over what they do with them, they are in a safe environment and because I don’t know how to parent without them. Also, they watch violent films (Superhero movies, various sci-fy) and play violent video games. They are well adjusted, empathetic, respectful, emotional developed, intelligent, self-aware, healthy, contented children who are equally popular among children and adults.

    Admittedly the under 18’s today are the guinea pig generation for electronic parenting tools. And mistakes will be made. If these studies have any use it is to show us how to do it better, not to shame parents for working within the constraints of modern life.

    Life threatening consequences? Shame on you.

    1. You sound like a wonderful Mom with awesome kids, and appear to be managing your children’s tech without problems. Let me reiterate, I am speaking to the parents and teachers who are experiencing tech management difficulties, or whose children have symptoms related to tech overuse (developmental delay, obesity, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, aggression, explosive violence, social phobias, attention deficit, autism, learning difficulties, illiteracy), and suggesting they consider eliminating handhelds for children < 12 years of age. This step would greatly improve the parent and teacher ability to manage tech overuse, or inappropriate use (porn, violent video games, texting, facebooking at 2 AM, etc). I'm curious...if there was adult exercise equipment, benches, covered areas, would you stay longer with your children at the park?

  93. The problem lies in children who cannot make wise decisions due to the fact that their frontal lobes are not fully developed until age 25. Kids generally pick instant gratification over delayed gratification, e.g. eat entire bag of candy now rather than one piece over a week.

    Technology offers downsides, as clearly outlined in Cris’ artcle. These downsides are associated with the instant gratification technology offers that I refer to as digital candy. On the other hand, there are clear educational benefits to technology and gaming, particularly educational games that I refer to digital broccoli.

    The problems lies in kids who indulge excessively in digital candy leading to dysfunctional behaviors as outlined in the article. These dysfunctional behaviors far outweigh any benefits gained from digital broccoli aspects of the technology.

    When educators give handheld devices to kids, they dream of all the digital broccoli available. When the child receives tte digital device, most inevitably the child dreams of all the digital candy available.

    The task lies in setting healthy boundaries and constantly supervising children who receive these digital decices. However, beware, even supervised iPads were hacked by LA Unified Schools students within two weeks of receiving these devices. Instead of feasting on digital broccoli, these students stuffed their brains with digital candy like video games with little educational benefits and porn, motivating school officials to recall thousands of iPads.

    The lesson is if your child is one who can moderate their desires for instant gratification and makes amazing adult-like choices, then handhelds will likely be beneficial. However, if your child is one who loves to pick candy over veggies, you’ll likely face serious behavioral issues and may need help from professionals like Cris Rowan.

    Andrew Doan MD PhD

    1. Thank you Andy (who is author of Hooked on Games, great book)! Parents and teachers who can manage children’s use of technology, and stay under the recommended amounts of 2 hours per day, are likely not the ones referring their children to me. As a clinical OT, tantrums, attention deficit, and uncontrolled aggression are my 3 most frequent referrals. I am consistently informed by parents and teachers in my workshops, repeatedly, that the tablets, cell phones, and handheld games are ‘virtually’ impossible to manage. One teacher last week said she set up her computer to be linked to all her students computers, so she could see all of their screens to monitor for video games, porn, Facebook, etc., but when she goes to help a student, some switch immediately to entertainment.

  94. I would just like to add my own thoughts. I have a two year old and a four year old. Both of my boys know how to fully operate the iPad and samsung tablet we have. They play their team umizoomi math games, spelling games and some other recreational games such as angry birds. My four year old is exceptionally smart. He is already being to read books, learning a second language, can count well and do basic mathematics.I have no fears in him being under developed or having some sort of mental disorder. Both children are very active with sports and have great imaginations. Our pediatrician suggested we get the iPad for him because he is learning so much right now, he could also learn technology as well.

    With that being said, I believe it is possible that some children do not learn as well as others and with out guidance technology is dangerous. But I don’t believe you can take a study, done on a small percentage and make it a mandate for all.

    Now a small rant about the education system. You want to complain about literacy for school age children? How about address the fact that teachers are forced to forgo the education that you and I received to teach the children how to pass a standardized test. To much is put on these test these days, which unfortunately the education for the child suffers.

    1. You are describing excellent use of technology, and thank you for your insightful comments. Prosocial media has been shown to result in prosocial behaviors, if kept to the prescribed 1-2 hours per day. On the other end of the spectrum of technology use, is antisocial media, which can result in a child with antisocial behaviors. The issue you have raised is that no two children are the same, and while many are able to use technology without detrimental impact, some children cannot. Blog feedback, and further discussion with my colleagues in this field (Thank You Dr. Andrew Doan, author of Hooked on Games), indicates that collectively we need to create a tool for parents to determine whether their child has problematic issues related to technology, or not, and offer guidance and support relative to problem, as opposed to imposing a mandate for all. Does this sound appropriate?

    2. I would highly recommend giving your kids a game called minecraft. I have championed the virtues of this game before, and am too lazy to do so again. Instead, simply watch some of these videos detailing the full extent of the possibilities that this game offers. I reccomend viewing “the land of akane” and “Red rock city”. The block by block program is also worth checking out.

      I believe that your son would flourish in an environment that encourages creativity and imagination, and minecraft does exactly that. Minecraft is like a box of legoes, except with infinite legos and building in a fully interactive environment also made of legos. You can also mod the game, and It offers possibilities for a beginning in programming.

      1. Hi Noah,

        Thanks for your comments. I’m curious about the programs that you talk about which teach literacy better than a parent? Can you please send research showing improved literacy from using these programs?

        Re: video games. I was presenting at American Psychological Association conf. in Wash DC last week, and was on panel with Dr. Andrew Doan, neuroscientist and author of Hooked On Games. He spoke quite frankly about rising addictions to video games, and cautioned to stick to American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of no technology for 0-2 year olds, 1 hour per day 3-5, and 2 hours per day 6-18 years. Dr. Doan also recommended no handhelds for children under 12 years, and no online video games for children and youth under 18 years due to highly addictive nature of video games.

        Dr. Przybylski, prolific researcher on impact of video games on children, talked on another panel presentation on video games with following take home points:

        1) Gaming Addiction is real and we need more research.
        2) Aggression and rage comes about not necessarily because of violent media but because of competition and online play. We need more research on the perverted online play that occurs when anonymity allows people to do mean things online. Violent media, in the hands of mental dysregulation, is not advisable and likely detrimental because there are anti-social influences.
        3) Content matters as work from U. of Iowa shows “digital veggies” are beneficial for young kids, particularly when used in moderation AND with parental engagement. On the flip side, “digital candy” like Telebabies are horrible for language development and executive function.

        Interestingly, when parenting is “really bad”, video game overuse is a good thing because it keeps the kids away from bad parents. It goes back to: 1) parenting, 2) moderation and 3) don’t become addicted.

        Dr. Przybylski recently published a paper in Pediatrics in a study of over 5000 kids showing that less than 1 hour of gaming per day is beneficial, but the benefits are lost when it’s 3 hours of gaming per day. Again, moderation is the key.


  95. this reminds me a lot of the fear mongering and pandering i grew up with in church. your pandering to people and hoping that you can use fear and emotional arguments to strike at the hearts of parents and gain a following. you are no better than any of the crooked christians like dobson or robertson. i doubt that there are even suitable sample sizes available to come to such extreme conclusions. i hope people realize how un-compelling this argument is; that this type of all or nothing thinking is often considered to be a symptom of depression and is known as a cognitive distortion. In my opinion this is at best pandering, and at worst a cleverly constructed fear piece that has gone viral.

  96. Cris – Just a comment that you article misuses some facts.

    “One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).”

    This article actually states that one in seven (not six) children experience a mental disorder at any given time. Their own definition for mental disorder states it is an absence of mental wellbeing, NOT a diagnosed mental illness. They go on to claim they use a high threshold for determining whether a disorder exists, but I checked the reference for this claim (Waddell C, McEwan K, Shepherd CA, et al. A public health strategy to improve the mental health of Canadian children. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2005;50:226-33.) and its a previous paper written by the same author, who is being somewhat disengenuous as a source. Her previous research was regarding instances of mental disorders in certain subsets of children (none of which was relating to technology usage). At any rate, their claim of one in seven (not six, as you claim) of Canadian children currently experiencing a mental disorder is not the same as what you have said they claim, which is that one in six suffer from a diagnosed mental illness. Further, you make a claim regarding the presciption of psychotropic medications (we’ll leave the commentary on those being dangerous aside, I suppose all drugs are dangerous if not prescribed properly but that isnt the current point at issue), such evidence which is not supported in your source. Nowhere does it state that any of the percentage of those “one in seven” kids with a mental disorder is prescribed drugs for those disorders, let alone that it is “many”.

    So yeah. You may want to correct your post here. This bit stood out as something I wanted to fact check, but some of those other claims are dubious at best as well. Just because something is published does not make it a quality research source, and at any rate you would need to properly reference what you claim to be referencing.

    1. This article actually states 14.3% of children have a mental health disorder, so I thought 14.3% was closer to 1 in 6, as opposed to 1 in 7 seven children. Regardless…that’s a lot of unhappy children! 26 years ago I didn’t have any children on my caseload with mental illness, and now…1 in 6/7. Re: diagnosis/disorder; how can a study detect children with mental health disorders, if they have not gone through the diagnostic process e.g. how would they get the stats? Regarding psychotropic meds, I am quoting Julie Zito’s research referenced in my Fact Sheet. Regarding proper references, this isn’t a paper I’m submitting for publication, but rather a document to generate interest and comments regarding the impact of escalating technology use by children, and a head’s up that we’d better start taking technology overuse seriously.

  97. I believe the over use of technology is a problem but it’s the lifestyle of these people that is the main problem. It is common sense that if you stay active and have a healthy diet it is good for you both mentally and physically. If people don’t stay active they turn to technology because it’s easier to watch tv or play on the computer. The decision by the individual to stimulate the mind through technology as opposed to real world experiences is the issue that needs to be addressed. A day filled with work/school, evening activities and a healthy supper doesn’t leave much time to sit and stare at a screen. Blame the individual not the technology, be accountable for yourself.

    1. Well said! Did you know that 40% of parents use over 11 hours per day of entertainment technologies e.g. NOT WORK. I’ve worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in the area of child technology overuse for a decade now, and truly believe that we are into some serious problems here re: addictions. Technology reduction can never be legislated or regulated, but parents can be educated about negative consequences of tech overuse. My thoughts, having now travelled full circle, is to enhance our playspaces, both in and outdoor, to draw families off tech and into connected play. Rarely do I see a playground that entices anyone over the age of six. Slides and swings have gotten shorter, and anything fun or challenging to older kids (remember merry-go-rounds?) has been removed in the name of “safety” e.g. litigation prevention. There is nothing for youth to play on, nor are there benches or exercise equipment for adults. Enhancing playgrounds – or – paying for costly tech addiction rehab….which would be more fun?

      1. We’re expecting our first child now, and I think one of the biggest realizations is that we’re going to have to quit the excessive screen time, because our daughter will learn from us on how to act, and if she sees us involved at length with any sort of screen, she will eventually want the same kinds of things so she’ll be more “grown up.” I know for a fact that I have an extremely addictive personality when it comes to technology (which kind of ties in with your research here, seeing as I grew up in a very tech-based family… and no, I would argue that Pokémon is a bad thing, because I would totally spend hours upon hours and not sleep at all, just so I can “level up”,), so it’s probably a good idea to cut the cord for me first. Then it’ll be easier for our daughter!

        I like the idea of having more interactive playgrounds for both adults and kids… that way, I could actually play around with my kids more effectively and interact with them, instead of sitting idly by and watching them passively. I’ve been walking to the park, and it makes me sad when I see the only people who are there are dog owners. There’s a playground, but rarely do I see kids playing on it.

        1. I truly think the way out of this mess we’ve got ourselves into is to look toward creating really interesting and cool playgrounds, with something to do for all ages. What about a covered seating area with bit firepit, adult exercise equipment, picnic tables and benches, outdoor gardening…all in one fenced and safe area? Wouldn’t you love to go there with your kids???

          Try to not access tech when your kids are awake, and be there for them as much as you can. They only have one childhood, and when they’ve grown up and are gone, then you can get into the tech!

  98. Hi Cris. We have an 8 month old and are certainly on-board regarding the 0 screen time. One issue that has arisen lately is facetime with grandparents and my husband when he is away for work. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this. We have been allowing this as the sole Ipad time but worry about it being a slippery slope.
    Thank you!

    1. There is no research on this, so offering info based on my experience only. Video conferencing or skyping with Dad or G & G for short periods e.g. < 5 minutes, would not be harmful (I think). What I would advise is to let your baby guide the interaction e.g. if baby is engaged and interactive, go for it, but when baby tires or gets bored, end the session. Children can attend for ~ 1 min per year of age, so your baby will likely have a good 1-2 min of engagement, and then get bored. Babies watch their parents, and often take cues as to how to behave or interact from their parents. When parents are on tech, the baby learns to also be engaged with tech, so best to do your tech when baby is asleep, and engage with your baby when they are awake. Good question!

      1. Clea, hang in there. We never allowed our son to see a Tv on during his first 4 years . We used to call it a screen because for us thats what it is, we play documentaries, DVD, etc. No commercial Tv, no cable, no nickelodeon. People can’t believe that we own a tv but it is not plugged to the aerial. Our son is excelling in preprimary, he is reading and doing maths at a much higher level. He is not a genius, I don’t think. Mothers would love to have a special gifted kid to brag about, but I’am being honest with you. He is a hard working little guy who asks for extra exercise sheets after school, because, guess what. There is no distraction, no Tv, no video games to crave. The iPad rights are earned based on his performance at school and after school efforts. He uses the iPad to design robots, draw, learn phonics, etc and always airplane mode on. On a very good day he will earn 30min but won’t use half of them because is time to do something else.
        We were always told that we were ” lucky”. People fail to see that we gave up having the cable tv on like we used to when weren’t parents. I’am here to testify that kids can concentrate, can love paper books and wooden blocks to build.
        A big plus for the pocket? Since our kid doesn’t follow any character on TV, he doesn’t ask junk food endorsed by these cartoons and personalities.

        Thank you Chris Rowan.

  99. While I do believe that the majority of these statements are in fact correct, this is strictly a biased post. I agree with Ryan Morash when he says that certain games, in moderation, are quite beneficial to a child’s development.

    I was born in ’93 and while I do wholeheartedly agree with the amount of technology usage up to the age of 5 or being limited to maybe an hour or less a day, I was watching T.V with my parents or sometimes by myself, probably for an hour or more a day from the age of 6 on.

    For the record, I have none of the detrimental “side effects” of over using technology. I do however recognize that I did and still do use technology far too often ( though being a web developer is an exceptionally hard career to maintain without the use of technology ).

    A couple little fun facts about my “Development” Vs. “Technology Abuse”

    -I was raised with a lot of technology, my dad was heavily into it as a past time and for work, so I grew up with him being my role model and slowly edging me towards technology.

    – I started playing Graphic / Violent video games before I started playing Pokemon. As a matter of fact, the very first video game I played was Team Fortress Classic ( give me a moment to reminisce ) made by the same people who produced Half-Life / Half-Life 2, one of the highest selling PC First Person Shooter’s of its time.

    – Despite my countless hours logged playing video games such as TFC, call of duty, battlefield, Final Fantasy, Diablo, and many others, I feel no violent tendencies towards anyone, actually, probably even less than the people that grew up WITHOUT these distractions.

    – My grades were always average, if not above, despite an hour or two of T.V or Video games between the ages of 7-14.

    – My grades were in fact, higher and I was more efficient in school when I stopped overwhelming myself with hours of homework every night and took the time to relax ( which usually involved playing video games or watching T.V ).


    In conclusion, MONITOR your child’s technology use, be active in their life and if they seem to be falling behind, then would be an appropriate time to set restrictions. I may be a statistical one in a million, but I am also proof that too much technology is not a thing.

    With the way the world is evolving and the rate that industries are moving to more digital and therefor eco friendly solutions, it will become in time become more detrimental to children if we deny them access to technologies, or limit them, when they could be learning how they work.

    Who knows, you might have the next great mind of the future, sitting in a high chair, throwing cheerios on the floor.

    1. Technology isn’t bad, in fact prosocial technology can result in improved prosocial tendencies in young children…but, technology needs to be managed. Today’s child uses 7.5 hours per day entertainment technology, and another 2 hours of “educational” technology at school (educational in quotes, as there is no evidence technology does anything but entertain). This amount exceeds what the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend by 4-5 times. We need to think of the who, what, when, where, why and how when considering technology usage parameters. It sounds as if you were within the recommended guidelines when you were growing up? Today’s child isn’t. Check out the new Apptivity Seat by Fisher Price, where you can mount an iPad on the frame, or the new iPotty, again with an iPad mount. Infants, who experts recommend should be exposed to NO technology, are using up to 4 hours per day. What is their future going to look like…if they even have a future? The two most frequent referrals I receive for under age 6 is tantrums and aggression. Hmmm….

  100. I am not really technically smart but have noticed over the years many of the points you have mentioned. I definitely agree that many of the ipads, phones, computers etc. are overused by children and are not necessary for their learning and growth. Some use may be necessary for school and work I suppose, however, never in their rooms ever, ever. This is from an uneducated person with regard to technology and children – just an observation. Thank you for the opportunity to read your article and comment on it;.

      1. My son has not being focusing in class during school. His grades are failing. Can it due to overuse of computer? I started to ban my son from using the computer until he can improve his grades. He is only allow to play when he has completed his work. Initially, he starts to throw tantrum, showing aggression, speaking rudely to me. He is addicted to computer games. Now, he can’t even take out his toys to play. I am extremely worry of him. And wondering what next…????

          1. He is 10 yrs old now. We started to control his computer time 2 months ago. In the begining we do not really control or monitor his play time. The estimate time spent can be more than 4 hours. We realised his addiction & started the ban. He started computer game since he is 7 yrs old. Thinking back his addiction is a progression. With the ban, he now can focus slightly better but at times when he ask for computer time and was turn down he will get emotional and cry very long. We have to find other things to distract & get him to be interested in other thing. I hope it is not too late to go the remedies……

  101. I believe technology use at an early age can benefit a child’s development, not harm it. Certain video games, such as Pokemon, require reading comprehension skills to advance in the game and has been called the ‘Gateway Drug to Literacy’. In addition, more jobs in the technology sector are being created in Canada. It is important to teach computer literacy to prepare children not only for these jobs, but also for the important role all types of technology will hold further in their education.

    1. What you are saying is not backed by research. What studies are showing is that due to technology overuse 1 in 3 children enter school developmentally delayed, 1 in 4 are obese, 1 in 6 have a diagnosed mental illness, and 1 in 11 children are now addicted to technology. Never before in the history of humankind have we witnessed children with addictions. These children will go on to FAIL to achieve literacy, and will likely never finish high school, much less be leaders of the next generation. While there may be certain aspects of technology that can enhance cognition, the intensity, duration, and frequency parameters of technology use by young children have escalated well beyond what is healthy. The child may be able to swipe an App, or spell a word, but the sedentary, isolating, overstimulating, and parental neglect aspects of tech use by children is creating the first generation of children, many of whom will not outlive their parents. Literacy rates are at an all time low, largely due to developmental delay, but also due to the fact that since the onset of computers in classrooms, teachers have quit teaching printing, which is a precursor to reading and math. Children who don’t know how to print fail in every subject. No computer program can teach literacy, and I would love to see the research on your Pokemon. Interesting you call it a “drug”.

      1. I find it interesting that while you state that your information is evidence based, you have failed to provide any references or cited material. Additionally, by making ‘all or nothing’ statements you are actually going against the scientific method in which theories are supported by evidence, not found to be true. You also make some large statements such as “teachers have quit teaching printing”. My mother is a teach and she in fact does teach printing.

        1. Read the bottom on the document where I direct readers to my Fact Sheet found on website http://www.zonein.ca where you can find over 100 research references regarding impact of technology on children. Here are just a few that were referenced in this document. The printing comment is referenced to research in 2008 by Stephen Graham who surveyed primary teachers and found in K to grade 3, teachers average 13 minutes per day in printing instruction. This is down from an hour per day in the 1980’s. My comment is supported not only by Graham’s research, but also by what I observe when I go into the classroom and look at student’s printing, and teacher’s teaching methods.


          Active Healthy Kids Canada [2012 report card on the internet]. Retrieved on Sept. 15, ‘13 from

          American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education. Children, adolescents and television. Pediatrics. 2001; 107 (2): 423-426 and AAP News 2013; 34:11 21

          Gentile D. Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 to 18. Journal of Psychological Science. 2009; 3(2):1-9.

          Human Early Learning Partnership Program, EDI Maps. Retrieved on Dec. 23, 2013 from http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/maps/edi/bc/

          Pagani LS, Fitzpatrick MA, Barnett TA, Dubow E. Prospective Associations Between Early Childhood Television Exposure and Academic, Psychosocial, and Physical Well-being by Middle Childhood. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2010; 164(5): 425-431.

          Tremblay MS, Willms JD. Is the Canadian childhood obesity epidemic related to physical inactivity? International Journal of Obesity. 2005; 27: 1100-1105.

          Waddell C. Improving the Mental Health of Young Children. Children’s Health Policy Centre, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver BC, Canada. 2007. Retrieved on Sept. 15, ‘13 from http://www.firstcallbc.org/pdfs/Communities/4-alliance.pdf.

          1. As someone who grew up in the beginning of the computer/video game phase (I’m 22 this year), I don’t see anything wrong with technology and development of a child. I was someone who played video games at a very young age. I watched Power Rangers and I played World of Warcraft from its launch date. I have no developmental issues, except for slight social anxiety brought on from my fear of large crowds and general dislike of the general population. Maybe parents should learn about moderation, because not showing a child these things is more likely to leave them in the dust in an age of rapidly growing technology.

          2. Doesn’t your “general dislike of the general population” limit your enjoyment of the world, and life in general? Can you work, enjoy relationships, travel?

          3. While I agree that “overuse” of technology is bad, I also agree with some previous posters that this article takes an all or nothing approach, and that there’s a tendency to exaggerate– which should make readers far more skeptical of the article’s conclusions. Great article to provoke discussion & renewed interest however.

            Some examples?

            “What studies are showing is that due to technology overuse 1 in 3 children enter school developmentally delayed, 1 in 4 are obese, 1 in 6 have a diagnosed mental illness, and 1 in 11 children are now addicted to technology. Never before in the history of humankind have we witnessed children with addictions. These children will go on to FAIL to achieve literacy”

            First of all.. this doesn’t make sense. The studies can’t say that tech overuse is the direct and only cause of any of these stats on their own– except tech addiction (and who is to say that isn’t partially the person’s own predisposition to addiction). There are many contributing factors to childhood obesity for example. Furthermore, not ALL people with a developmental delay, obesity, mental illness, or tech addiction will FAIL to achieve literacy.

            “Never in the history of humankind have there been child addictions”

            This is not the first time, and will not be the last that childhood addictions have been an issue. Unfortunately, drugs have been around for a long time, and children aren’t immune to their effects or availability. Sucks, but it’s true. I’ve met many young people who smoke for example. Some are born with addictions. You know that I’m sure.

            I think the problem isn’t that young people are allowed to use technology, but rather *how* they are allowed to use it. Games– whether board games or computer games– can provide good opportunity for practicing various skills, especially memorization (eg. http://www.french-games.net/). Tv shows such as SuperWhy can reinforce reading skills (I watched a group of kids shouting out the “super letters” and sounding out words). Many of the things you’ve mentioned in your article have credibility– but if you’re trying to educate people, it’s a good idea to show that you have considered both sides, and avoid being seen as unreasonably biased so your message isn’t lost. Technology has an important place in our lives and our education– but we are still working out how to use it responsibly. Most digital tech we’re used to has only become available during the past 30 years. Sure, it might be easier to just limit your tech time (and if you’re already obsessive about it, maybe SEVERELY limit it!) or your children’s tech time. But, that might not be the best solution– it also matters how you USE that tech time.

            Here’s a research article that mentions some of the BENEFITS of playing video games– and it’s not the only one out there. Everything in moderation, yes?


          4. Yes… everything in moderation. Collated research can be found on Fact Sheet http://www.zonein.ca. Historically youth have had addictions, but never children. The youngest child with a tech addiction whom I’m presently working with is 3 years of age.

      2. He simply said it has been called “the ‘Gateway Drug to Literacy’”, not that it IS a drug. I can honestly say as an avid gamer and reader, that Pokémon was most definitely a favourite and undoubtedly piqued my interest in wanting read stories, and also experience them through a video game.

        I also found it interesting that you listed Grand Theft Auto V as having “rape” and “mutilation” included in its content. Having played GTA V, I certainly don’t remember any instances of rape or mutilation. None of the “explicit sex” was at all explicit, and the ONE instance of torture was barely graphic and makes sense when put into context – it’s really no different than watching a violent movie or TV show. All of these things, no matter what they portray, are art; they promote creativity. Whether it be watching an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants or a Tarantino movie, playing Super Mario or Skyrim, these things do promote creativity and learning. One does not need fancy-pants research from a fancy-pants university when they have observed it in their own life and are living proof.

        On an unrelated note, I had a good laugh at the fact that online gaming and porn are on the same level, and should essentially never be experience by anyone ever before the age of consent. Thanks for that.

        1. So, even though the sex was NOT explicit – in your terms – is it still okay that kids are playing this game and seeing it?- and the torture was hardly graphic – really?? Torture – BARELY graphic!! Seriously. So pornography is okay and seeing people get murdered on a game are fine for children to see? Do you know how one little image can sear into a child’s brain for life and ruin them? How many men and women are ruined because of these damaging choices – are you truly that much better off for having played the game? This article is trying to help parents decide on wise choices for their children, on how exposure to these sorts of things can be damaging for their children. Giving them advice on the wisdom of letting them be kids who can look up and see the world around them – not the tiny little world in their hands.

          1. Children are not just viewing, but actually doing the torture, murder, rape etc. The immersion factor of today’s large screens make it that much more real. A question I pose to researchers is “Can a young child exposed to excessive media violence get PTSD”?

          2. Maybe an organization known as ESRB is meant for these kind of issues? It’s idiotic that you’re criticizing a game rated 18+, when shouldn’t the blame be put towards the parents letting their children play these games? You wouldn’t let your child go into an R rated movie, so please tell me how a video game is any different.
            This article claims children shouldn’t have exposure with online violent video games. There are dozens of “violent” combat games designed for children, that achieve ratings of Everyone – Teen. Yet somehow these are considered as dangerous to them as pornography? It’s anti-media extremeists like these who give parents a bad wrap.

        2. Brandon, did your parents tell you to “watching” makes perfect? Watching movies, or cartoons or video games is going to make you more creative like watching Tiger Woods will make you a better golfer.

          1. Watching television may not promote creativity to the extent that Brandon talked about, but video games in their nature are inherently creative. there are some games that go against this, but open ended games such as skyrim, gta, and ultimately minecraft, enourage craetivity(minecraft is actually on a whole different level compared to gta, the game would be impossible without some semblance of creativity going into it’s playing. the very nature of the game is creative. It’s like legos, but a whole lot less restrictive.) both skyrim and gta also encouratge creativity, there are no “levels”, the character must choose where they go and when, efficiently managing their time and resources to ultimately have the most fun. Granted, GTA should not be played by anyone below 13(though it mainly depends on the child, how they tend to view things like thta, and their overall maturity level), but as Cole so fluently put it, there is such a thing as the ESRB

      3. Dear lord, are you out of your mind? “These children will go on to FAIL to achieve literacy, and will likely never finish high school, much less be leaders of the next generation. ”

        I can’t believe I just quoted that because I can’t believe anyone would be narrow minded enough to actually say that. You really are missing hte point.

        I now expect this comment to be deleted because the author doesn’t agree.

      4. I can’t quite tell if your trolling or actually believe this. there is no correlation between longevity and technology use whatsoever. There are in fact several programs existing that can teach literacy, and some do it better than a parent simply because they are engaging as well.

    2. Agree with you Ryan; as a teacher and as a gamer (yes, I am over 30) I see more positive sides then negatives; This article is clearly biased. Sad.

      1. Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12 (with research references)

        The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012). Handheld devices (cell phones, tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased the accessibility and usage of technology, especially by very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist is calling on parents, teachers, and government to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years. Following are ten research evidenced reasons for this ban. Please visit zonein.ca to view the Zone’in Fact Sheet for referenced research.

        1) Rapid brain growth
        Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by over exposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to negatively affect executive functioning, and cause attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity, and decreased ability to self-regulation e.g. tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).

        2) Delayed Development
        Technology use restricts movement, resulting in delayed development. One in three children now enter school developmentally delayed, negatively impacting on literacy and academic achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement enhances attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008). Use of technology under the age of 12 years, is detrimental to child development and learning (Rowan 2010).

        3) Epidemic Obesity
        TV and video game use correlates with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children who are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). One in four Canadian, and one in three U.S. children are obese (Tremblay 2011). 30% of children with obesity, will develop diabetes, and be at risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely shortening life expectancy (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). Due to obesity, 21st century children may be the first generation many of whom will not outlive their parents (Professor Andrew Prentice, BBC News 2002).

        4) Sleep Deprivation
        60% of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage, and 75% of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are detrimentally impacted (Boston College 2012).

        5) Mental Illness
        Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).

        6) Aggression
        Violent media content causes child aggression (Anderson, 2007). Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today’s media. Grand Theft Auto V portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture, and mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows. The U.S. has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk due to causal impact on child aggression (Huesmann 2007). Media reports increased use of restraints and seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled aggression (Vancouver Sun 2013).

        7) Digital dementia
        High speed media content causes attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004, Small 2008). Children who can’t pay attention, can’t learn.

        8) Addictions
        As parents attach more and more to technology, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children attach to devices, resulting in addiction (Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile 2009). Never in the history of humankind have there been child addictions.

        9) Radiation emission
        In May of 2011, the World Health Organization classified cellphones (and other wireless devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission (WHO 2011). James McNamee with Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary warning stating “Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can’t say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child.” (Globe and Mail 2011). In December, 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health recommend that based on new research, radio frequency exposure should be reclassified as a 2A (probable carcinogen), not a 2B (possible carcinogen). American Academy of Pediatrics requested review of EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing 3 reasons regarding impact on children (AAP 2013).

        10) Unsustainable
        The ways in which children are raised and educated with technology are no longer sustainable (Rowan 2010). Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology. A team based approach is necessary and urgent in order to reduce the use of technology by children. Please reference below slide shows on http://www.zonein.ca under Videos to share with others who are concerned about technology overuse by children.

        Problems – Suffer the Children – 4 minutes
        Solutions – Balanced Technology Management – 7 minutes

        Please contact Cris Rowan at info@zonein.ca for additional information. © Zone’in February 26, 2014

    3. I agree that Pokemon can help your child develop reading skills, however, what happened to the playing cards that encourages the child to flip the cards and sound out the complicated words and also learn math skills! Sitting down with your child and helping them figure out how to actually use the cards is an important step that some parents do not want to commit to!!! This is the very unfortunate part of technology. My son learned to read, and as well as advanced math skills from Pokemon CARDS, at the age of 4. If my son has screen time after 5pm he has trouble sleeping and has no concentration at school the next day. So we limit his screen time to 1/2 every second day, learning games only.

      I work in the technology field and love the benefits of all devices myself. I also have 4 children at various ages. I know first hand that video time saps the life and creative energy out of my children if used for a long period of time, especially if they are using it to numb themselves, such as repetitive TV shows, lengthy non-educational video games. They have trouble adapting and grounding themselves back into reality.

      I believe that if they are using technology to express their creativity, build something, program, word process, interact with a Learning tool there still have to be moderation. . In contrast, if we notice a negative repercussion of the device, it is important to talk this out with your child so they can make the connection themselves as to when they have had too much.

    4. I would like to point out that I am a web developer by trade. I took computers in grade 6 and typing in grade 7, that’s it. We didn’t own a video game consol growing up and didn’t own a computer until the late 90s. I am 31 years old and graduated high school in2000.
      Kids don’t need exposure to computers at an early she to go into the technology industry. They need desire and creativity. That’s it. To say you were benefited by your early exposure to video games is arguable. Social issues? Uh that’s the whole point hun.
      I love tech, I work in the tech industry and I believe whole heartedly that the influence of video games, particularly violent ones, TV, movies has a devastating impact on our children’s development. I have three kids myself and have witnessed the effects first hand.

      It should say something to us that a child with learning disabilities could be helped by technology about the level of mental capacity required to watch TV , movie ur use a handheld device.

      1. Love your comment Krystal. I myself don’t use computers much or even own a tv. I grew up in a house with tv but no cable, no computer and no video games. I have 4 siblings all between 25-35 now who grew up in the same house. Two now work with computers for a living. One is at the head of “geek squad”. And we have social skills to boot.
        Needless to say I am not concerned about the future electronic knowledge of my 3 kids who have yet to use a computer, play video games or even watch a movie over 45 min long (ages 4-9). They will figure it out if they need to.

        1. I am a Canadian grandmother of nine. We have had this debate with our children. You must be home schooling your children or live under a bush if your children have never used a computer. I feel very sorry for them. Moderation is the key,

    5. The article isn’t really talking about computer use in older children that are beginning to learn computer skills,. It’s about younger ones, and especially the use of handheld tech by younger children. There is no doubt that older children need to learn computer skills. Have a look at the chart labelled Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth” for a better idea of what research is saying on this issue. I think that you might have misunderstood the main thrust of this article, which is that the younger children are, the less technology they should be exposed to. Cheers.

  102. My son has been struggling with behavior issues and being nonverbal. He will be 4 in April and is in his first year of preschool. I’m getting him to start to repeat the words I’m saying to form a sentence. We do this one word at a time and he’s beginning to do well. 6 mths ago I couldn’t even get him to say please without having a full fledged meltdown and a lot of times he wouldn’t say it at all. I was told to get him an iPad and that would help him with his speech but I’m not wanting that for him at all. I feel if I do that he will withdraw all together from practising his words with me. I feel he will isolate himself if he’s given an iPad. Your article has assured me that I’m making the right decision and has pointed out other things I need to change for him. Any other information on this that may be helpful for me in my situation would be very appreciated. I can use all the positive help I can get. Thank you

    1. Communication is an interactive social skill, which is being significantly eroded by technology overuse. As parents connect more and more to technology, they disconnect from children. In the absence of parental attention, children are as a default attaching to devices in alarming rates. Research study found that when the background TV was on (75% of households have the TV on all day), parents spoke to their children 90% less. When children aren’t spoken to, they never learn how to speak back. You are bang on to keep your child away from iPads, as this will only delay his speech further. The underlying causal factor for problematic child behavior is failure of the primary attachment. That said, the best way to help our children is to unplug ourselves from technology, and be available for them. Four critical factors for the developing child is movement, touch, connection, and nature. Making sure your child stays within recommended tech guidelines (nothing 0-2, 1 hr/day 3-5, and 2 hrs/day 6-18 years AAP, CPS), and balancing tech with lots of movement, touch, connection, and nature, will work toward creating sustainable futures for all children. I commend you for the excellent insight into your child, and the determination to help him become the best he can be. Cris

      1. Unless you are a speech language pathologist and have done an assessment of this child, please do not hand out advice on speech and communication. 4 years old is very late to be nonverbal, there might be any number of reasons this mother has been encouraged to use an iPad. She should be encouraged to a) see an SLP if she hasn’t already, and b) bring up these concerns with an SLP to problem-solve how to go no-tech for her child.

        1. I’m a pediatric occupational therapist, biologist, SIPT certified sensory specialist, and have collated over 250 research studies on the impact of technology on children. I also have considerable experience in the area of augmentative communication. I do feel qualified to make general comments on the use of iPads by nonverbal children, and unfortunately, know of no research in this area (do you)? The research I am familiar with by Dimitri Christakis indicates that TV delays speech, so wonder if this would be applicable to iPads? Considering that the tongue, cheeks and lips are muscles, one would think that the developmental concept “use it or lose it” would apply somewhat to speech e.g. if they are staring at an iPad, they wouldn’t be developing speech? One might also think that giving a child a device would prohibit, not promote, voluntary speech, as why would a child talk, if they can get lost in a virtual world and get their needs met there? So many questions, and so few answers. Please let me know if you know of research regarding use of iPads with non-verbal children.

          1. OT is not SLP, so as much training and as many certifications you have, the intersectionality of language, the brain, and communication is not your specialty. I am not disregarding your experience, I am just saying that a) you shouldn’t be giving advice on language (nonverbal at age 4 is NOT a motor or motor-processing disorder) and b) be giving advice online with minimal information on the child.

            The issue with nonverbal children and technology is much more complex than just “will it delay language or not”. It is incredibly unlikely that technology is the reason a child does not use language at the age of 4. Nor will it probably have an impact on the trajectory of language learning/use as the child ages. Something else is going on. Introducing tech to help the child express himself, communicate effectively, reduce frustration, etc. is an excellent use of technology. Pairing tech use with real-world exploration with this child might be the best choice for that family.

            That all being said, these can sometimes also be changed in a no-tech way. So the real questions are, WHO is telling her to use an iPad? For WHAT REASON are they using the iPad?

            Immediately shooting down tech for tech’s sake, with minimal information, is not good professional practice.

          2. I have a 3 1/2 year old who speaks well. We moved in with my sister whose son is 6 months younger than my child. He spoke very little and was hard to understand. Since having the two of them interact his vocabulary has improved. He is now going to preschool and it is a vast improvement. He almost never uses an electronic device if ever. So, “use it or lose it” works.

      2. My Daughter was not a very competent talker until about 2 and a half when we got her an iPad and the difference it made was amazing. She started to read along with interactive books and games because they we’re so clear and repetitive. She’d get to a specific place and be so used to what they were going to say that she’d just say it herself. She’s now advanced for her age.

        I wouldn’t worry too much about the fear mongering regarding handheld devices. The research that has been done is fuzzy at best. My Daughter is also in quality fulltime preschool and whenever she’s using the iPad we’re right there with her, constantly engaged.

        I think more the problem is that parents are lazy and use the iPad or TV to entertain rather than actually parenting. If you there experiencing these devices with your child then (in my experience at least) they are incredibly powerful and positive.

          1. Well I’m not a biologist (although my Wife’s a geneticist so I know a bit). So I can’t really comment on the first two as they’re just abstracts of papers and there’s no meta analysis section. But the paper from nature has a comments section which highlights a number of major concerns about the study.

      3. Do you have a facebook page or link. I totally agree with this data. I have a 22 mo old grandson whose parents are in denial about their disconnect with him via electronics. He is being dx with autism and I see the language and social delays but disagree on rhe cause. They need eyes opened. Very concerned

    2. Lindsay,
      If your child is non-verbal and an iPad was recommended to support an alternative means of communication – for example, with the proloquo app. Then it may be something worth exploring – these kinds of recommendations aren’t made lightly. Although I agree that keeping technology to a minimum and supporting imaginative play is best practice for most kids – sometimes technology opens our world for certain children ( for example, by providing them a means to communicate with those around them when their speech isn’t ready to do the job). Use of the device won’t deter natural speech – it simply provides an avenue for communication while your child reaches his or her potential for natural speech.
      I’m not sure if this is the case or not for your child – but if so, please give it some thought.

      1. It’s important to consider the risk vs. benefit parameters of the iPad, and think in the long term. While the iPad might provide an avenue for self expression, will it promote expressive speech? There is no research available to support your statement “The device won’t deter speech”, and therefore difficult to make an informed decision. Best to defer decision to the parent, don’t you think, as they know their child the best?

          1. This research is on children with disabilities (they mention children with mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy), NOT a child with delayed speech. We need to think through the who, what, when, where, why, and how – before we jump to use of a device which makes the child sedentary, isolated from social contact, overstimulated, and often neglected. These are significant downsides of use of technology, which result in delayed development, obesity, anxiety, depression, aggression, attention deficit, and learning difficulties. Need to look at these risks, and then ask if the perceived benefits out way the risks for this particular child. I’m not saying there aren’t benefits from use of tech, but not for every child, especially those who already have attention, self regulation, and aggression problems.

          2. This research specifies children with mental retardation, autism, and cerebral palsy, not young children with delayed speech. It’s important to think through the who, what, when, where, why, and how parameters of tech use, and carefully consider the benefits and risks, prior to recommending tech for young children. While there may be some benefits, quite often the risks e.g. sedentary, overstimulating, isolating, indicate the choice of tech is not wise. Children need human connection, from peers, parents, teachers, and therapists, and they need to go outside and play with their friends. A device will never replace the power of human connection.

          3. I have worked with many young children, both with and without disabilities, and their families over the years. I have personally witness children come out of their shells and learn to connect and communicate with the use of various technologies. I have also personally watched my own child turn from a very antisocial person to a social butterfly just by placing a tablet into her hands. She gain the ability to build her social skills in a way that was less overwhelming and intimidating to her. When you are considering these requests for information are coming from parents who are trying to make informed decisions in order to provide the best parenting they can it almost seems insulting to insinuate that they will become neglectful to their children once the turn them on to technology. I caution parent’s to take all advice with a grain of salt because you know your child and your family best and ultimately you will discover what works for you. Technology doesn’t create all these issues across the board. In some cases there are health issues and in others it is simply poor parenting. (And I am absolutely not insinuating there is any poor parenting amongst the commentors here, I don’t know any of you.)

          4. Technology is a tool, and can be used successfully, as with your daughter, but also can be overused, which is especially harmful for young children. There is a growing trend to provide non-verbal children with iPads, children without any physical reasons for not speaking. What I am encouraging parents, teachers and therapists to consider is why isn’t a 4 year old speaking? Dimitri Christakis found that when the background TV is on, parents speak to their children 90% less, significantly impacting on early speech. 75% of households have the TV on all day.


          1. This idea that electromagnetic radiation is inherently harmful is anti-scientific bunkum. Go ask any physicist. The electromagnetic waves used in Wi-Fi signals are lower energy than visible light, for crying out loud. They’re just radio waves, and we’ve had radio masts for decades. We’ve lived underneath one for millennia: the Sun emits EM radiation, including a peak at shorter (i.e., more energetic) wavelengths than your average Wi-Fi device, and yet it’s not the radio portion of the spectrum which causes the problems, it’s the UV: higher-energy, “ionising” radiation. Wi-Fi is not going to kill anyone.

            It’s a shame. I could quite easily believe that electronic technology is something which young children need adults to control for them. But if you are willing to lend credence to obvious anti-scientific nonsense simply because it fits with your overall prejudices, then it calls into question the quality of the rest of your evidence.

          2. I am also an OT. I agree with Cris. The research that Speech Lady presented was weak for a delay, as a significant diagnosis was not identified. However, if a child has a significant delay (oftentimes associated with other diagnoses), it can be very beneficial. When someone inquires on an online forum such as this, it’s best to speak in general terms and with the latest research, which it seems Cris is trying to do, for the most part. SLP’s are not the “be all and end all” for communication difficulties. OT’s are also well qualified to assess cognition in their own right. I worked in Neurology at a very good clinic in the United States, and was on the brain team.

          3. From a neurological perspective, can you tell us more about what you are concerned about regarding young children’s use of technology e.g. neurochemical/structural changes?

      2. Thank you for your input on this subject. Great dialogue, and loads of interesting food for thought. Sure wish we had some research to reference to negotiate this one!

        1. Great. Where was this article when I agreed to let my 9 year old save up for his first ipod cos his 11 year old brother had already done so?! ‘I wish I’d known then’ is probably something a lot of parents are thinking after reading this. We probably all had our suspicions and most of us try to limit the use of these devices as much as possible but for some of us it can get out of hand. What do I do now..? Does it mean my son will now have all these listed problems from using hand helds before he was 12? We’ve had speakers come to the school to educate them on cyber safety and stress that technology is a future our kids will be in and its not going anywhere. I realize this means we still limit them. Is that my only hope..?!

          1. Stick to the expert guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society – nothing for 0-2 years (not even background TV), 1 hour per day 3-5 years, and 2 hours per day 6-18 years. Handhelds are virtually impossible to manage use, in homes and schools, and unsupervised use is resulting in exposure at very young age to violent and pornographic media content. Check out what happened in LA (below).

            “It took just a week for nearly 300 students who got iPads from their Los Angeles high school to figure out how to alter the security settings so they could surf the Web and access social media sites. The breach at Roosevelt High and two other LA schools has prompted Los Angeles Unified School District officials to halt a $1 billion program aimed at putting the devices in the hands of every student in the nation’s second-largest school system, the Los Angeles Times reported. The district also has banned home use of the iPads until further notice as officials look for ways to make sure students use the devices for school work only”.


        2. Please stop referring to mental retardation. The preferred terminology is cognitive disability or intellectual disability.

          1. That was a term used in a study, and I should have made a note as such. Thank you, as am aware of how derogatory this term is.

          2. As of 2013, the term “mental retardation” is still used by the World Health Organization in the ICD-10 codes, which have a section titled “Mental Retardation” (codes F70–F79). In the next revision, the ICD-11 is expected to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability,” and the DSM-5 has replaced it with “intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder).”[4][5] Because of its specificity and lack of confusion with other conditions, the term “mental retardation” is still sometimes used in professional medical settings around the world, such as formal scientific research and health insurance paperwork.[6]

    3. Hello Lindsay,
      I would like to share with you that I have a son who is now 12 . He presented the same symptoms that you mentioned above. The difference is that he was 6 months whenever my brother (who is a physician) noticed his attention deficit (by saying attention deficit , I meant he was not paying attention at all when called, for ex). He also stopped talking. This grabbed my attention and I consult it with his pediatrician who gave him another 6 months to observe him. Whenever he turn 1, he was the same. Therefore, I start a whole lot of medical examinations recommended by his doctor. All these turn out that my son had absolutely nothing wrong (Thank G.d). He had , for some reason, a language delay that affected his social behavior. For the same reason , he had to go to language and occupational therapy for 3 years , in order to catch-up with the children at his age, because he fall behind.
      The therapy was awesome and did its job. He is now in 7th grade , in the gifted program.
      I wanted to share my own story with you , so it could help you with your son. Wish you the best!

  103. i have been waiting for an article dealing with the above topic to present to our parents. Am I able to make copies to send home for our parents to come to the realization of what handheld devices are doing to their children?

    1. Yes! Please feel free to use any of my articles in distribution to parents, or anyone else for that matter! Reducing the use of technology by children (and their parents and teachers) will require a team effort by all people who work with children.


      1. Dear Cris, my wife and I have a small medical practice in Guadalajara, Mexico. We are always preparing brief newsletters to educate our patients. May we have your permission to use this article in order to make Mexican parents aware of the dangers of technology on little children? We will make the proper attributions to you and to your website. It would be wonderful to have your articles translated in Spanish so we can direct parents to this excellent info.

        Thank you in advance…

          1. Hi there
            My name is kathy Taylor and I am a primary school teacher in Geraldton west Australia. Would you permit me to access the PDF version of this article to attach to our parent newsletter. It supports our Kidsmatter programme which is a mental health initiative.
            Kind regards

          2. I’ll email the pdf version to you. For those who are interested in following the research on impact of technology on child development and learning, I distribute the free monthly Child Development Series Newsletter with collated research, news, books, video, websites. Sign up link http://www.zoneinworkshops.com/newsletters.html

            I’ve tried your email twice, and bounces back. Can you email me directly at info@zonein.ca, and I’ll respond from there with pdf.

          1. Dear Chris,
            Great article with usable information. I wanted to request you the pdf version (if possible )of this article as I wanted to share it with my son’s school council. Thanks a lot this info is extremely valuable

      2. Thank you. I’ve been waiting for this as well and plan to share with parents as well, assuming the previous endorsement qualifies for me as well.

        1. Yes…please share this article with other parents and teachers, as important to have this information for planning who, what, when, where, why, and how children should be using technology.

      3. Hello Cris, In my graduate program, my classmate and I created this website @ eiscreentime.weebly.com.

        The title of our site is – Scree Time: A focus on Infants and Toddlers.

        We created a link to the following article:

        From the American Academy of Pediatrics
        Policy Statement
        Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years
        Council on Communications and Media

        My question to you is “May we include a link to your article on our weebly site?”

        I can be reached at the email address included in this reply.

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        Mellie Bukovsky-Reyes
        Playology Oregon Educational Consulting
        Oregon Registry Master Trainer and Early Child Care Parent Education and ECE Professional Development
        P.O. Box 373
        Yachats, Oregon 97498

      1. Please read below research on grey and white matter brain atrophy with technology overuse, and then get back to us regarding impact on cognitive development in children? 2D screens are far inferior to teaching and learning in the third dimension for children under 12 years of age.


        Regarding neurological damage from early exposure, the brain triples in size ages 0-2 years, primarily through formation of synaptic connections determined by environmental stimuli (or lack thereof). Enriched environments which include the four critical factors for development and learning (movement, touch, human connection, nature) will proliferate neuronal connections throughout the brain, whereas technology uses primarily action/reaction circuits (lower brain).

        Please read below research on EMF/RF radiation exposure causing brain tumors, lowered sperm motility, sperm defragmentation in ADULTS, and then get back to us regarding how you think these devices are safe to use with children?


    2. I question the accuracy of the chart when an 18 year old should “Never” play online violent video games or view pornography. At 18 years of age, people have graduated from high school, drive their own car, and are even the age of legal consent to be featured in adult films, yet they can “Never” play an online video game or watch pornography, even if they are featured in the adult content themselves legally? How realistic is it for someone to wait until their 19th’ birthday before they can play an online video game. I know the article is mainly focusing on children under 12, so maybe re-work some of the higher age brackets. They undermine the 12 and under point you are trying to make.

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