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Video Game Design - Criteria to Enhance Child Development and Learning

By Cris Rowan, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

BTM Champion Status SealAs concerns mount regarding the impact of technology on children, visionary focus on changing the design of video games comes to the forefront. Through strategic design, can a video game actually enhance child development and learning? I was recently approached by game designer to work collaboratively with his team in creation of a video game that is engaging, but not harmful to children. We developed a list of criteria for video games which promote child development and learning. These criteria will serve to guide future video game designers toward managing balance between critical factors for child development and learning, with video game use. Designers who meet the Video Game Criteria for Child Development and Learning, will receive the Zone'in Programs Inc. Balanced Technology Management Champion Status seal of approval on their video game. The BTM Champion Status seal of approval will assure parents the video game will enhance their child's development and learning, and could also be used by government in regulating the gaming industry. 

Research & News Review

How gadgets and the internet are turning us into a nation of emotional basket cases

By John Naish for Daily Mail July 18, 2013

Dr Larry Rosen, American professor of psychology reports that our obsession with technology is causing an epidemic of psychological disorders, with social networking related to narcissism, and texting to obsessive compulsive disorder and ADHD.


JAMA Pediatrics theme issue on technology and children 2014

JAMA Pediatrics calls for abstract submissions for 2014 theme issue titled Media, Technology and Pediatric Health; submission deadline Nov. 1, 2013.


Your phone vs. your heart

By Barbara Fredrickson with the New York Times on March 23, 2013
Researcher found that the heart's capacity for friendship obeys the biological law "use it or lose it", and when humans don't engage in face to face interaction, they actually lose the biological ability to do so.


Now My Kinect Can Tell Me If I'm Depressed With 90% Accuracy

Computer scientists have used Microsoft's Kinect sensor to detect, with 90% accuracy, whether you are depressed. All you have to do is sit down in front of Kinect, answer some questions from an on-screen virtual psychologist, and the clever software does the rest. Jeff Wooley asks "Is the Kinect able to discern if it is the cause of the depression"?


The Online Social Experience and Limbic Resonance - Why too much time online can lead to depression 

Published on December 4, 2011 by Hilarie Cash, Ph.D. in Digital Addiction
Limbic resonance refers to the energetic exchange that happens between two people who are interacting in a caring and safe relationship which stimulates the release of certain neurochemicals in the limbic region of the brain necessary for full emotional and physical well-being.


This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality

By George Dvorsky on Mar. 14, 2013 for Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology

A cell phone imbedded in your skull?


Self-Other's Perspective Taking: The Use of Therapeutic Robot Companions as Social Agents for Reducing Pain and Anxiety in Pediatric Patients

Sandra Y. Okita for Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking on March 18, 2013

Dr. Okita reports that when a child and parent were together during robot therapy sessions, the patients' pain ratings decreased significantly. There were no differences in the pain ratings when the child interacted with the robot animal without the parent present.


You're distracted. This professor can help.

By Marc Perry for the Chronicle of Higher Education on March 23, 2013

Mr. Levy hopes to open a fresh window on the polarized cultural debate about Internet distraction and information abundance with his course "Information and Contemplation," where participants scrutinize their use of technology: how much time they spend with it, how it affects their emotions, how it fragments their attention.


Video game rage: Violent imagery isn't the trigger, researchers say

By Lisa Polewski for CBC News on April 3, 2013

The results of Adachi's research indicate that it's the competitive aspect of the games that causes people to get angry rather than the violence.


Violent Online Games Exposure and Cyberbullying/Victimization Among Adolescents

By Lawrence T. Lam et al for Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking on March 17, 2013, 16(3): 159-165.

Exposure to violent online games was associated with being a perpetrator as well as a perpetrator-and-victim of cyberbullying.


Anger on the Internet: The Perceived Value of Rant-Sites

By Ryan C. Martin et al for Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking on February 2013, 16(2): 119-122

Researchers found that while internet ranters become relaxed immediately after posting, they also experience more anger than most and express their anger in maladaptive ways. Reading and writing rants were associated with negative shifts in mood.


Can Interface Features Affect Aggression Resulting from Violent Video Game Play? An Examination of Realistic Controller and Large Screen Size

By Ki Joon Kim et al for Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking on Mar. 18, '13 doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0500.

Results from a between-subjects experiment showed that a realistic controller and a large screen display induced greater aggression, presence, and arousal than a conventional mouse and a small screen display, respectively, and confirmed that trait aggression was a significant predictor of gamers' state aggression.


Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General, Chapter 4: Risk Factors for Youth Violence, Appendix IV: Violence in the Media and Its Effect on Youth Violence

A substantial body of research now indicates that exposure to media violence increases children's physically and verbally aggressive behavior in the short term (within hours to days of exposure).

Video Games Targeted By Senate in Wake of Sandy Hook Shooting

Posted Dec. 19, 2012 by Huffington Post

Senator Rockefeller introduces bill for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent videogames and violent programming on children.  


Youth Violence: What We Need To Know

The National Science Foundation Report on Youth Violence.  


Scrutinizing violence's ties to antidepressants

By Dr. Peter Breggin for Variety - Special Report on Violence and Entertainment

Dr. Breggin talks about his experience testifying as an expert in shooter trials regarding the impact of anti-depressants on violent behaviour.


Lupica: Morbid find suggests murder-obsessed gunman Adam Lanza plotted Newtown, Conn.'s Sandy Hook massacre for years

On Mar. 17, 2013 for New York Daily News

Law enforcement officials believed that (Lanza picked a school for his shooting rampage, as it was the way to pick up the easiest "points" e.g. numbers of "kills". Lanza didn't want to be killed by law enforcement, as in the code of a gamer, if somebody else kills you, they get your points. Officials believe that's why Lanza killed himself.


Internet addiction in students: Prevalence and risk factors

By Daria J. Kuss et al for Computers and Human Behaviour on Jan. 24, 2013

Data from 2257 students of an English university found that 3.2% of the students were classified as being addicted to the Internet.


Infographic: Are you addicted to the Internet?

By Stephanie Mlot on Mar. 11, 2013 for PCMAg

Excellent infographic and statistics on internet addiction. Survey by Sodahead shows 71% of aged 18-24 yrs. reported internet addiction.

Internet addiction affects the brain

By Kate Abusson on Mar. 6, 2013 for Psychiatry Update

Brain scans on 12 adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction and 11 healthy controls found reduced functional connectivity in the cortical and subcortical brain regions of the internet-addicted teens.


Normal behaviour, or mental illness?

By Anne Kingston on March 19, 2013 for MacLean's magazine
Article questions increased propensity by the medical/psychiatric professions to pathologize child behaviour, and investigates the new DSM V's psychiatric guidelines that are pitting doctors against doctors.  

Volunteer your way to better health

Editorial for the Vancouver Sun on March 8, 2013

People who volunteer enjoy many health benefits, from fewer specific health problems such as high blood pressure, to fewer functional limitations, to the best health benefit of all - reduced mortality.


23% of America is illiterate

By staff writers on Feb. 13, 2013 for Online Courses

One in five American adults has the literacy of a 4th grader. One third of Canadian grade eight students do not have job entry literacy. Computers are dumbing down society.


Video Clips


Cute video clip on down fall of going paper-less.
Websites & Blogs


Hands Free Mama

Great blog about letting go of our children, and grasping what really matters.


The porn industry is flourishing, and impacting culture as a whole, as well as the development of children who are exposed. Learn more about the industry and its impact on children.
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.


Product Preview  


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.
"Zone'in Programs Inc. for sale!
Please contact Cris Rowan at for more information".
Foundation Series Workshops

Workshops are offered in the following formats:

Buy individual recorded webinars for $99 each

or the first 6 in the series for $499!


You will have two weeks to download your file.  Once saved, you may watch at your leisure, alone or with your friends/colleagues.  Stop and start the recording to suit your schedule - watch as many times as you like! 

Foundation Series Workshops on DVDs 

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.

Click here to learn more or sign up.
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. 

Care to Donate?

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. 2013
Tel: 1-888-896-6346
Fax: 1-877-896-6346