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Child Mental Disorders - Illness or Environment?

By Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist


I was talking with a mom this week on the phone about her son who has a diagnosis of adhd, and was suggesting some environmental interventions that might help him with his rage and aggression. I mentioned research proven techniques for aggression such as reduction in violent media content, increased exposure to movement and nature, and more human connection and touch. The Mom kept telling me "You're not getting it; it's HIM that has the problem, not ME"! As we talked, I could hear kids screaming in the background, along with a blaring TV, while she relayed to me that her son was hitting her, and recently tried to choke his younger sister. This child is six years old, and on stimulant medication. I wish I could say this situation is rare, but can't. Of the 28 children on my early intervention caseload, half have behavior and/or self-regulation disorders. This article explores how depriving children of the four critical factors for optimal development and learning - movement, touch, human connection, and nature, could explain the high incidence of child mental illness. 


Cris in the News


Cris Rowan on CBC TV's The National

CBC's TV's The National aired this feature on school technology, and Cris Rowan's interview appears at 37:52 into newscast. What wasn't included in the newscast was the following statementby Rowan "Technology is created for entertainment, yet sold to parents and teachers as education. It's estimated that 8% of children are addicted to technology. Is it the 'addiction' asking for more technology, or a child who is actually interested in learning"? 

You can watch the clip here.




As part of the American Occupational Therapy Association's (AOTA) Approved Provider 4-year renewal process, AOTA is requesting that Zone'in Foundation Series Workshops participants complete a short online survey about theri continuing education experience. Completing this survey will also enter you into a quarterly drawing for a $100 voucher for AOTA publications or CE. To access the survey go to


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Upcoming Workshops


One in three children enter school developmentally vulnerable, one in four are obese, and one in six have a diagnosed mental illness. For parents, health and education professionals, the Foundation Series Workshops provide research referenced information, tools and techniques to enhance child development and learning. Give your child and school the edge they need to grow and succeed!

Zone'in Products

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


Zone'in - enhancing attention, learning and self-regulation.

Move'in - teaches children to print, the foundation for literacy.

Unplug'in - builds skill and confidence in activities other than technology.

Live'in - media literacy guide for home, school and community.


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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.


Training & Consultation 

Instructor training for Foundation Series Workshops places pediatric occupational therapists on the cutting edge as experts in the field of technology's impact on child development.

Zone'in Training

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. 


By A. van Rooij, et al in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, on August 17, 2012, doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0007.


The VAT demonstrated excellent reliability, excellent construct validity, a one-factor model fit, and a high degree of measurement invariance across gender, ethnicity, and learning year, indicating that the scale outcomes can be compared across different subgroups with little bias.


Pals in Power Armor: Attribution of Human-Like Emotions to Video Game Characters in an Ingroup/Outgroup Situation

Anna Besmann and Kimberly Rios. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. August 2012, 15(8): 441-443. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0111.


Results imply that computers' "emotions" are treated with a similar ingroup/outgroup social regard as the emotions of actual humans.


Why kids need to fail to succeed in school

By Margaret Wente on September 1, 2012 for the Globe and Mail

Children as young as four are re-enacting scenes from ultra-violent video games at school after being given free access to consoles in the home, according to teachers' leaders.  


Our digital mindset: UT prof faces challenge of holding students' attention in online world

By Tracy Dahlby, StatesmaN, July 22, 2012

Ours is an age of rampant "fear of missing out." Nearly two-thirds of teenagers and young adults check their cell phones for text messages every 15 minutes or less, and fully half of them get "moderately or highly anxious when they can't check their technologies as often as they would like."


South Korea gaming: Skill or addiction?

CNN 12 minute documentary on August 7, 2012. 

The interaction between the autistic mind and computer-based technology, video gaming, television, DVD-based entertainment, and handheld devices increases static and repetitive thinking, communication, and behavior, and thereby serves as an obstacle to the dynamic cognitive, social, and emotional demands of the 21st century.

Web of addiction - Is internet addiction disorder a real medical condition? 

40 minute video on The Stream featuring Dr. Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program and Dr. David Greenfield, Director for The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. 


There is an epidemic of over-diagnosis of ADHD

By Harold Mandel on March 5, 2012 for Examiner

"There is not an epidemic of ADHD in the country, there is an epidemic of fraudulent diagnoses of this disorder" reports Dr. Fred A. Baughman Jr., M. D., a Pediatric Neurologist.


Drug companies drive the psychiatric drugging of children 

By Dr. Peter Breggin for Huffington Post on July 24, 2012

Johnson & Johnson has tentatively agreed to a settlement of $2.2 billion to resolve a federal investigation into the company's marketing practices for the illegal promotion of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to children.


ISU Professor Gets White House Invite to Talk Video Games

By BA Morelli on August 17, 2012 for AmesPatch

Douglas Gentile, an Iowa State University psychology associate professor, plans to head to the White House on Wednesday to lead a discussion about behavior connected to video games.


Addicted to cell phone? Nomophobia on the rise.

Today - Digital Life on May 8, 2012

66% of people surveyed admit to cell phone addiction - termed "Nomophobia". People check their cell phones an average of 34 times per day. 75% of people take their cell phone into the bathroom. 


Silicon Valley says step away from the device

By Matt Richtel on July 23, 2012 for the New York Times

The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions 


The Psychology of Social Networking - Talking about ourselves and loving it 

Infographic by Kate Broadock on August 17, 2012 for Otherside

Did you know 1 of every 5 minutes spent online is on a social network? And did you know that 80% of the posts are usually about the poster? Take a look below for more stats.


Light From Self-Luminous Tablet Computers Can Affect Evening Melatonin, Delaying Sleep

A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous "backlit" displays causes melatonin suppression.


Xbox death highlights game addiction dangers 

By Mike Smith on August 19, 2011 for Plugged In

Electronic games are a fixture in two-thirds of American homes, and research indicates as many as 8% of American kids are so addicted to their electronic entertainment that it's causing real-world problems for their personal development.


Ohio boy hospitalized after 4-day Xbox marathon

By Dylan Stableford on August 7, 2012 for The Lookout

A 15-year-old Ohio boy collapsed after a four-day Xbox marathon, his parents say. He was hospitalized and treated for severe dehydration.


Playing games for all the wrong reasons

By Justin Davis on August 28, 2012 for IGN

Article by an off/on gamer who states "These gaming binges corresponded to the periods in my life when things in the real world weren't going my way. I was using video games as a security blanket". 


Taking a Vacation from Tech (Well, Almost) - 8 Tips to make travel and tech co-exist

By Regan McMahon, Aug. 6, 2012 for Common Sense Media


What's New


ADHD goat - maybe it should be medicated?

A lovely 2:21 min. video on the power of connection and disconnection in our lives

SideStix are high performance forearm crutches, with unique ergonomic angles and a shock absorbing system. The design is based on past and current evidence and research data to position and protect joints from overuse injuries.  SideStix are customized, modular with interchangeable "feet" for various terrains and have a life time warrantee. This product is covered by most medical insurance companies and the VA. SideStix offer a 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee.

F.lux TM - better lighting for your computer 

F.lux (free download) makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.


Great website for World of Warcraft addicts, including addiction questionnaire, blog, and 12 step program for Wowaholics.


November 20 & 21, 2012, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with Dr. Daniel Siegel.


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Zone'in Programs Inc. and Cris Rowan are seeking your support and assistance to ensure sustainable and productive futures for our children. Find out more about how you can help us!

Zone'in Programs Inc. 2012
Tel: 1-888-896-6346
Fax: 1-877-896-6346