By Cris Rowan

Every parent I've met professes profound love for their children and truly strives to create healthy and functional family lives. Parents who come from dysfunctional families have a much harder time navigating the pitfalls of parenthood as they simply cannot do what they were not taught. Being a functional attachment figure to a wee little child's persistent needs requires a parent who has been able to put their own generational wounds behind them. Along comes the cell phone. In the absence of a functional attachment with their family of origin, parents are prone to creating unhealthy relationships with their devices. In the absence of a primary attachment figure, children follow the parents lead and form unhealthy attachments to their own devices. The cell phone becomes an interface between family members prohibiting a life sustaining and essential component of every childhood...healthy attachment. Addictions to devices really should be viewed as a coping mechanism for family dysfunction carried through generation after generation. Reframing child screen addiction as a coping mechanism for family dysfunction allows families, teachers and clinicians to focus on improved family relationships as a primary intervention in treating addiction. This article intends to cast light upon the probable origins of child screen addiction and offers the Healthy Families Questionnaire to guide families toward actions to improve healthy family relationships.

Healthy Families Questionnaire

Conference Presentations

Schools of Tomorrow Edition XII conference titled A World of Tomorrow: From Darkness to Light.

Panel discussion with Cris Rowan, Prof Dr Ger Graus, Lord Jim Knight, Lee Daley and Afshan Khalid. Date: 20 Nov 2020

New Resources

By Children and Screens offers parents, teachers and health clinicians research referenced information on a variety of topics impacting children and youth regarding digital media. Children and Screen's vision is to understand and address compelling questions regarding media's impact on child development through interdisciplinary dialogue, public information, and rigorous, objective research bridging the medical, neuroscientific, social science, education and academic communities.

Hosted by Children's Screen Time Action Network includes a variety of documents that provide further background about the issue of screens in schools. While some may wish to read the Action Kit cover-to-cover, it is designed to make it easy for you to select the resources and tools that will be most helpful to your advocacy.

Hosted by Children's Screen Time Action Network is a series of webinars featuring experts (check out Cris Rowan and Hilarie Cash Nov. 2018) who know families, children and tech. Past webinars have covered topics including brain development, persuasive design, interfaith screen time perspectives, teen anxiety and more!

Hosted by Children's Screen Time Action Network features articles from educators, academics, parents, and students. Teach over Tech is a platform for sharing solutions to screen overuse in schools. Topics range from equitable access to high-quality learning, opting out of EdTech, outdoor teaching and learning, to parenting during distance learning and more.

Hosted by Defending the Early Years is for teachers to share resources during COVID. This feature allows teachers to share ideas for activities, music, storytelling and read alouds, puppets, classroom management, and other ideas.

Curated by Roxanna Marachi, PhD. Great collated research on EMF Radiation.


Physicians for Safe Technology presents EMF Medical Conference 2021. Jan. 28-31, '21.

Watch Trailer here.


11. Min. video by CBC. Oct. 2020.
Tech companies are coming under increasing pressure to address digital addiction. During a recent House committee hearing on the dangers of social media, former Facebook executive Tim Kendall told Congress that the company intentionally made its product as addictive as cigarettes.

As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business. (runtime about 120-minutes).

Click Here to watch trailer.
33 min. Video features a physician who treats sex and other addiction; speaks about effects of porn on users. 

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Research and News Review
Covid - 19
By Christakis D, Van Cleve W, Zimmerman F. 2020. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(11):e2028786.  
In this decision analytical model of years of life potentially lost under differing conditions of school closure, based on the US studies, the analysis favored schools remaining open.

By Montag C, Elhai JD. 2020. Addictive Behavior Reports. Vol. 12;100313. 
An investigation of digital overuse while the COVID-19 pandemic (and beyond) against the background of Affective Neuroscience Theory (ANT) calls for a shift of perspective in research, at least as an important supplement to research efforts querying the actual nature of digital overuse. In the present work, we argue that it is high time to more comprehensively address why children spend too much time with screens and to also highlight the indirect media effects of screen time use (e.g. less mammalian rough and tumble PLAY time outside and elevated SADNESS due to parental neglect).

By Waddell C, Schwartz C, Barican J, Yung D, Gray-Grant D. Sept. 2020. Children's Health Policy Centre at SFU.  
BC study highlights increased incidence of child and youth depression, anxiety and PTSD secondary to Covid-19.


By Hinkley W, Heffernan N, Lee Bouygues H. 2020. Reboot Foundation.
Study shows that students writing down math problems increases high school math outcomes.
By Cook, JA for Mad in America. 2020
This article questions the rampant use of psychotropic medication by children to address rising mental illness. Yet far from being perceived as a public health crisis, the extensive use of these highly potent drugs has been framed as a public health solution.


By Foster HME, Ho FK, Sattar N, Welsh P, Pell JP, Gill JMR, Gray SR, Celis_Morales CA. 2020. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 95(11), pp. 2429-2441. 
TV time is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes. Future guidelines could suggest limiting TV time to less than 2 hours per day to reduce most of the associated adverse health events.
By Dresp-Langley B.  2020 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 May 6;17(9):3240.
Over exposure to digital environments, from abuse to addiction, now concerns even the youngest (ages 0 to 2) and triggers, as argued on the basis of clear examples herein, a chain of interdependent negative and potentially long-term metabolic changes. This leads to a deregulation of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter pathways in the developing brain, currently associated with online activity abuse and/or internet addiction, and akin to that found in severe substance abuse syndromes.
By Hutton JS, Dudley J, Horowitz-Kraus T. 2020.  JAMA Pediatrics. 174(1);e193869.
This study found an association between increased screen-based media use, compared with the AAP guidelines, and lower microstructural integrity of brain white matter tracts supporting language and emergent literacy skills in prekindergarten children.
By Madigan S, McArthur BA, Anhorn C, Eirich R, Christakis D. 2020. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(7):665-675. 
Systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 42 studies found that greater quantity of screen use was negatively associated with child language, while better quality of screen use (educational programs and co-viewing with caregivers) were positively associated with child language skills.
Screen Usage Stats, Testing
By Common Sense Media. 2020 
Children 0-2 years use 2.5 hours of screens per day; 3-5-year old's use 4.5 hours of screens per day.
By Kemp, S. (accessed Jan. 12, '21).
Everything you've always wanted to know about global digital use.

Playgrounds and Nature
By McCrorie P, Mitchell R, MacDonald L, Jones A, Coombes E, Schipperijn J, Ellaway A. 2020. BMC Public Health. 20;304.
Rural children sit less and are physically more active than urban children.

By Ngurah Edi Putra IG, Astell-Burt T, Cliff DP, Vella SA, John EE, Feng X. 2020.  Frontiers in Psychology. Vol 11; 859.
Current evidence shows that exposure to green space may potentially increase prosocial behaviour among children and adolescents.
Family Attachment

By Rogers A, Obst S. Teague SJ, Rossen L, Spry EA, Macdonald JA, Sunderland M, Olsson CA, Youssef G, Hutchinson D. 2020. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(11):1082-1092. 
Evidence suggests that perinatal depression and anxiety in mothers are adversely associated with offspring development and therefore are important targets for prevention and early intervention to support mothers transitioning into parenthood and the health and well-being of next-generation offspring.
By Dresp-Langley B. 2020. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 May 6;17(9):3240.
Over exposure to digital environments, from abuse to addiction, now concerns even the youngest (ages 0 to 2) and triggers, as argued on the basis of clear examples herein, a chain of interdependent negative and potentially long-term metabolic changes. This leads to a deregulation of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter pathways in the developing brain, currently associated with online activity abuse and/or internet addiction, and akin to that found in severe substance abuse syndromes.
By Gordon JB. 2020. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(12):1214. 
Author of this commentary suggests routine screening for abuse and neglect for youth presenting with mental illness.
By Holte AJ, Ferraro RF. 2020.
Changing to grayscale makes smartphones less gratifying and can assist individuals in controlling their smartphone use.

Mental Health - Autism and Adhd

By Restrepo A, Scheininger T, Clucas J, Alexander L, Salum GA, Geogiades K, Paksarian D, Merikangas KR, Milham MP. 2020. . BMC Psychiatry; Vol 20(252)
Problematic Internet Use (PIU) was positively associated with depressive disorders, the combined presentation of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, greater levels of impairment, and increased sleep disturbances, even when accounting for demographic covariates and psychiatric comorbidity.
By Kartchner C. 2020. 
Depicting their family's struggle with autism and video games with eventual stopping all digital media content with total reversal of autism symptoms.
By Heffler K, Sienko DM, Subedi K, McCann KA, Bennett DS. 2020. JAMA Pediatrics. 174(7);690-696.
Cohort study found greater screen exposure and less caregiver-child play early in life to be associated with later ASD-like symptoms.
By Dieu-Osika S, Bossiere M-C and Osika E. Global Pediatric Health. 2020;7:1-4.
Case study of a 25-month-old boy with history of early media overexposure and diagnosed autism (CARS) tested typically normal following 2-month screen cessation. Authors recommend screen cessation with all children who present with neurodevelopmental delays.

Videogames and Internet Gaming Disorder

By Canadian Press. Sept. 2020. 
Report by Vancouver Police Department indicates violent crime up 5.2 percent, property crime down 12.9 percent during first six months of 2020.

Wireless Radiation

After the FCC last month found no evidence of harm caused by wireless technology, Children's Health Defense and other groups sued - and included 11,000 pages of evidence refuting the FCC's conclusion. 

Principles for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection - Health Phys 118(5):477-482; 2020

Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz) - Health Phys 118(5):483-524; 2020. (This publication was published ahead of print in March 2020).  

Further information on the new ICNIRP RF EMF Guidelines

Zone'in Programs

Sedentary, neglected, isolated, and overstimulated, the new millennium child can no longer pay attention and learn. Zone'in Programs are designed by an occupational therapist to enhance child development and learning, ensuring successful futures.

Tech Talks for Therapists - 5 hour training for educators and therapists; includes Tech Tool Kit.
Tech Talks for Families 10 half hour sessions for families on tech management; includes Tech Tool Kit.

Virtual Child - The terrifying truth about what technology is doing to children
Virtual Child
By Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist.
Virtual Child documents the impact technology has had on the developing child, and proposes tools and techniques to manage balance between activities children need for growth and success with technology use. 

Need more info? Visit


About the Author
Cris Rowan is a pediatric occupational therapist committed to enhancing child health and academic performance. Well known activist, speaker, sensory specialist and author, Cris is the "Go To" expert on child learning, development and technology overuse. Cris has provided over 200 workshops for health and education professionals, and is currently developing the Creating Sustainable Futures Program for a First Nations Community.
Innovative team-based approach to manage balance between activities children need to grow and succeed with technology use.

Cris Rowan is now offering private phone/Skype consultations. 

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