Moving to Learn

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 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 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. 

Cris Rowen

Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi, SIPT

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

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

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307 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ( 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

    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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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 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 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 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!


  7. 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”.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. “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:

    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.

  11. 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 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?

  12. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back
    to your blog? My blog is in the very same area of interest
    as yours and my users would certainly benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Appreciate it!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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, 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”.


  17. 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.


  18. 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.

  19. 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.


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