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Child Mental Illness - Have we individualized what is really a systemic problem?

Includes "8 System Initiatives to Enhance Child Development and Learning"


By Cris Rowan.


As a pediatric OT, I have ongoing opportunities to observe and provide recommendations for interventions for children in a variety of environments. Providing assessments and educational workshops in homes, daycare/preschools, schools, child development centres, and clinic settings, have provided me with rich and diverse information about the systems that surround, interact and influence individual children. What I've witness over the past 25 years is an astounding change in how parents, teachers, and communities nourish, raise and educate children. Gone are the "free range" ideas of the past, where children would be allowed to walk to school, bike to the park, and go to friend's homes without parents constantly obsessing about whether they were safe.


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Cris in the News




Interview with Cris Rowan by Scott Radley on AM900CHML Hamilton's News Talk Leader, answering the question: "Should handheld devices be banned for young children?". Aired on January 13, 2015.




A pediatric therapist wants all handheld devices to be banned for children until age 12 article featuring Cris by Katherine Martinko on Treehugger, posted January 7, 2015.


Manage the balance between technology and activity for children by Cris Rowan on




Internet Addiction in Psychotherapy 

By Daria J. Kuss, Mark D. Griffiths Published December 2014
Internet addiction has gained increasing scientific recognition in the last decade, with some researchers claiming it is a '21st Century epidemic'. Literature addressing its treatment is scarce, and there is little consensus among experts as to the most effective intervention. This book aims to fill the gap by exploring how internet addiction therapy experts experience the presenting problem of internet addiction in psychotherapy. Cris Rowan is one of the 20 psychotherapists from six different countries who were interviewed regarding their individual experience of treating patients suffering from internet addiction. They highlighted the existence and severity of internet addiction as psychopathology requiring professional therapy. These findings establish a relevant knowledge base of potential problems related to internet overuse.




Look for Cris's article 'Tech Neglect - Disconnect from technology and reconnect with children to treat technology addictions' appearing in Holistic Parenting magazine, Issue No.7, January/February  2015.


Ahead of Cris's visit to India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in March, the Asia Pacific chapter of Young Presidents Organization included an article titled "What are your kids up to online?" in their January newsletter.




Huffington Post has recorded over 2.2 million Facebook likes for Cris Rowan's article 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12.


Click here to see the article. 


Foundation Series Workshop Schedule


February 5, 6, 2015 - Rivers Inlet, BC

Workshops on self-regulation, literacy, technology balance, and attachment, sponsored by Vancouver Coastal Health grant

Contact person: Kevin Gianakos 1-250-949-8881


February 16, 2015 - Comox BC

Keynote and full day workshop for Pro-D sponsored by School District No. 71 on impact of technology on child development, learning and behavior.

Contact: Sheila Powell 1-250-334-5527


February 25, 2015 - New York NY
Workshop on the impact of technology on children and parents sponsored by Toppan Printing Company Inc.
Contact person: Sarah Reilly 1-201-518-9715


March 6, 2015 - Vancouver, BC

Workshop on school design for success sponsored by Cross Currents Special Education Conference

Contact person: Mary Berg 


March 23-25, 2015 - India & Sri Lanka

Workshops for parents, educators, and health professionals sponsored by Young Presidents Organization on impact of technology on child development, learning and behavior.

Contact: Priya Thakur 


March 27, 2015 - Nepal
Workshops for parents, educators, and health professionals sponsored by Young Presidents Organization on impact of technology on child development, learning and behavior.
Contact person: Priya Thakur


April 27, 2015 - Dublin, Ireland
Workshops for professionals and parents sponsored by Young Presidents Organization.
Contact person: Denise Johnsen + 49.176.878.27621 


Research and News Review


Childhood Development


Tablets, smartphones can stunt child development, experts say.
By Steven Moore December 20, 2014
"Technology can't replace social interaction," Maxwell said. "When you're isolating yourself in the cloud, when you're watching TV, or you're playing on your iPad or iPhone, you're not developing those skills."

Hobbies for Kids With Real Psychological Benefits
By Elise Sole December 29, 2014
Researchers rounded up 232 kids ages six to 18 and used brain imaging techniques to draw their conclusions. "We found that kids who played any sort of musical instrument had less thinning in the area of the brain associated with emotional regulation and concentration"


Healthy active living: Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents 

By S Lipnowski, CMA LeBlanc; Canadian Paediatric Society, Abridged version: Paediatr Child Health 2012;17(4):209-10
Presents guidelines for reducing sedentary time and for increasing the level of physical activity in the paediatric population. Developmentally appropriate physical activity recommendations for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, children and adolescents are provided. Advocacy strategies for promoting healthy active living at the local, municipal, provincial/territorial and federal levels are included.


Active Parenting

Blog by Moms Managing Media January 25, 2015

A MMM mom shares her thoughts about her low tech journey with her four boys! 


Tech Addictions 


This is your brain online: How technology can affect the brain like drugs

By Chandra Johnson January 8, 2015
For Cosette Rae, the end of her marriage was death by a thousand clicks. Rae didn't know that she had developed a disease that has different names in different psychiatric circles - technology addiction, compulsive Internet use or, most commonly, Internet addiction disorder.


We are digitally obese - A look at attachment and addiction in our digital age
By  Amy Wright Glenn January 8, 2015

Inspired by the emphasis placed on nurturing meaningful connections as we begin this new year, may we dedicate daily hours to purposeful screen-free time and spend quality face-to-face time with those we cherish.  May we turn off the television, put the cellphone away, close the laptop and notice the present beauty surrounding us. 


Digital addiction afflicts young players, cramps lives 

By Yvonne Zacharias, Vancouver Sun January 23, 2015

Growing numbers of people are seriously hooked on video games, social media, digital devices


Is it True that People are Born Addicts?

While certain substances are more addictive than others, why do some people become addicted and others manage to escape substance dependency? It is suggested that there is a genetic predisposition to addiction, and while there is evidence that your genes can make a difference to whether you become an addict, they are only part of the story. 


The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think
By Johann Hari January 20, 2015

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned -- and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong -- and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.


Video Games & Porn


Gamers Are Dying in Taiwan's Internet Cafes

By Allie Conti January 20, 2015
In America, when people die from gaming, it's a bizarre anomaly-like the Florida woman who killed her baby when she was playing Farmville. But in Asian countries, gamers engage in deadly marathon sessions with disturbing regularity.


Internet porn is an experiment in dehumanization

By David Horsey December 15, 2014
You do not have to be a prude to worry about porn. Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come


Detoxing & Unplugging


Improve Your Work-Life Balance by Learning to Disconnect

By Ryan Weaver December 25, 2014 

"It is also a concern that children growing up in this environment spend less time engaged in other activities critical to developing empathy, emotion regulation, literacy and basic attachment," says Michele Kambolis.  "Disconnecting from technology gives children the kind of brain rest they need to synthesize information and even develop their sense of self. When children stay connected to their devices, they have shown to suffer from poor grades, lack of peer connection, and deep unhappiness."  


Moment Brings Back Family Dinner Time By Sounding Alerts If You Pick Up Your Phone At The Table
By Sarah Perez December 30, 2014
Kevin Holesh says that after his app's release, a number of parents wrote to say how much Moment helped them manage their kids' screen time. This led him to realize that smartphone addiction can be better solved when the entire family works together to combat the problem.


Our Family's Time OFF Has Turned into Time ON... LINE
By Susan Stiffelman December 30, 2014
I was looking forward to the holidays as a time to relax and unwind. And with my husband and I working so much, we hoped to reconnect with her three kids 11, 14 and 17. The fact is, they just want to be on their iPads and computers. If you walk into our house after dinner, you'll see five people each staring at a screen. When we do pick up a book to try to inspire our kids to do the same, they just roll their eyes. How can I get my family to unplug and spend some down time together?

Are you ready for the National day of Unplugging on March 6-7, 2015
National Day of Unplugging Kit for Kids (& FAMILIES & FRIENDS & TEACHERS) - Download here.


Education Technology


A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom

By Alexandra Ossola January, 14 2015
"If we are glued to technology 24/7, it's going to have an effect on social skills-it's just natural," said Tamyra Pierce, a journalism professor at California State University, Fresno. The clear link between technology and social behavior makes it all the more important that teachers who embrace these devices need to keep students' social skills in mind.


Tech Radiation


The National Association For Children and Safe Technology (NACST) is an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the health impacts of wireless radiation on children as well as advancing policies that safeguard children's health and well-being.  Their website details the accumulated research documenting both the acute and long-term health impacts from RF-EMF. 


Swedish Researcher Reports Key Studies Showing How Ants, Bees and Children Respond to Exposure to EM Radiation From Wi

By Katie Singer January 2, 2015
Children are the most important resource to every generation. We all have a shared responsibility to protect children. We also have an equal responsibility for all ants, bees and tomato plants -- now and in the future 


Social Media & Mobile Technology


Bored ... And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone

By NPR Staff January 12, 2015
NPR episode from All Tech Considered discussing the virtues of boredom, and the impediment of smart phones on this natural mental state.

We need to talk about the health risks of wearable technology
By Jenni Avins December 22, 2014
Many agree the simplest cautionary measure is to maintain some physical distance from our radiation-emitting devices-but clearly that will be much more difficult when the device is strapped to one's body.

No Phones in Bed
Or, the health case for books. New research looks into how screens tells our brains to stay unnaturally alert.
By James Hamblin December 22, 2014
It began with the mundane observation that people read to unwind-often at night, often in bed. As far as sleep is concerned, Charles Czeisler wondered, does it matter whether people read books on iPads, Kindles, or paper?


Brain Changed By Regular Smartphone Use

By Amanda Bernocco December 23, 2014
Touchscreen smartphones are changing the way user's fingers and brains work together, according to a new study. 




Adolescent Brain Meets Highspeed Internet Porn

Published May 16, 2013

Half-hour presentation describes the science behind sexual conditioning and the unique vulnerabilities of the adolescent brain-and explains why today's highspeed porn can cause unexpected effects in some users' brains.




Ask Your Doctor If You Should Take Advice from a Commercial
Commercials about psychiatric drugs are now ubiquitous. Helpful or harmful?

By Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. December 10, 2014
If you're struggling with depression that's been inadequately treated, avoid asking your doctor about advertised medications, and instead ask about referrals to mental health clinicians that he or she has worked with and trusts.  Word of mouth referrals beat carefully marketed ads any day!


Compulsive sexual behavior among male military veterans: Prevalence and associated clinical factors
By Philip H. Smith, Marc N. Potenza, Carolyn M. Mazure, Sherry A. McKee, Crystal L. Park, Rani A. Hoff, Journal of Behavioral Addictions 3(4), pp. 214-222 (2014)

Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is highly prevalent among men, often co-occurring with psychiatric disorders and traumatic experiences. Psychiatric disorders and trauma are highly prevalent among military
veterans, yet there is a paucity of research on CSB among military samples. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of and factors associated with CSB among male military veterans.


Programs, Tools & Techniques


Printable Kids Technology Tokens

Lisa from Over the Big Moon, created these fun Technology Tokens to hand out to her kids once a week. In order to play on the iPad or computer they have to turn their tokens in for time. It's an easy way to keep track of the time they are playing on devices, without too much effort. It also gives them control over how much they use at one time.

Canadian Physical Activty Guidelines

Produced by PaticipAction and The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

Guidelines and suggestions 0 - 4 year age range.

Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Produced by PaticipAction and The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

Guidelines and suggestions 0 - 4 year age range.




An Electronic Silent Spring
What is EMR?

By Katie Singer
While they operate, mobile phones, mobile phone chargers, iPads, cellular antennas, Wi-Fi, compact fluorescent lights, transformers and "smart" utility meters emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR) at frequencies and amplitudes that are not found in nature. An Electronic Silent Spring describes how wildlife and peoples' health are affected. 



What are your kids up to online?


For those parents who wonder what their kids are doing on those tablets and cell phones all day, now comes a new, free software called Qustodio that can tell parents who their children are talking to, when, how much, what types of games they are playing, apps they are using, and what sites they are frequenting. Why would parents want to know these things? Children today are spending more than one third of their lives online, causing them to be sedentary and often overstimulated with non-stop entertainment technology. Today's video games aren't what they were when we were kids, as they frequently contain violence and pornography which is too graphic for young children, resulting in fear and anxiety, with some children even acting out violent acts they've seen online. Many children use technology in their bedrooms out of sight of parents, leaving them unprotected from online cyberbullying and predators, as well as resulting in sleep deprivation, attention deficit, and children who have difficulty with self-regulation and tantrums. Qustodio helps parents learn how to manage their child's technologies, and puts them back in the control seat, toward safer and more healthy futures for all children. 




Child Development


Institute of Digital Media and Child Development 

Stimulating a national dialogue on the impact of digital media on children and adolescents through funding, conferences, ongoing forums and publications.  Composed of a collaboration among 160 national experts in the fields of neuroscience, child psychology, child psychiatry, pediatrics, public health, education, communications and many more.  Organizing a conference for the National Academy of Sciences in October, 2015.  Founder:  Pamela Hurst-DellaPietra


Chamakanda Blogs 

Explore the world of the young child with writer, speaker and consultant Stephen Spitalny. Steve was a kindergarten teacher at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School for 24 years and is a former member of the Board of WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America). His book "Connecting with Young Children: Educating the Will" was published in 2012. Steve now offers workshops, coaching and mentoring in the U.S. and around the world.


Fearless Parent 

Fearless Parent is informed by the trends of our time: desire for scientific integrity, deep respect for nature, love and compassion, simplicity, vulnerability and authenticity, passionate activism, and a clear-eyed understanding about business, economics, and politics.


Well Connected Kids 

Great website and resources for parents of infants and toddlers, who want to learn more about the importance of physical and sensory experiences in the early years.
Check out The Children's Mental Health Learning Series, funded by The Government of Alberta, recently broadcasted its eighth session. The sessions posted are:
  • The Core Story of Child Development
  • From Youth at Risk to Kids at Hope
  • Healing the Traumatized Parent and Child
  • Resilience in ADHD: Promoting the Positives in Challenging Children
  • Vicarious Trauma for Front-Line Service Providers and Parents
  • Creating Healthy Relationships and Settings to Prevent Peer Bullying and Victimization
  • Ameliorating psycho-social risk among mothers with intellectual disabilities and their children
  • Baby Steps and Giant Leaps: Infant Preschool Mental Health 

Education Technology 


Struggling Teens 

In 1995, went online as the original website for information about the many schools and programs available for troubled teens. The news and articles listed within this site provide an invaluable resource for both parents and professionals, as well as anyone interested in helping troubled teens find successful paths to adulthood.


Tech Radiation 


New Perspective on Child Development in the Wireless Age  

Information on EMF by Liala Epstein, EMF Expert, Advanced Health Technologies, Canadian Distributor for EarthCalm Products.


Canadians for Safe Technology

Canadians 4 Safe Technology is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based coalition of parents, citizens and experts whose mission is to educate and inform Canadians and their policy makers about the dangers of the exposures to unsafe levels of radiation from technology and to work with all levels of government to create healthier communities for children and families from coast to coast.


Kawartha Safe Technology Initiative 

Kawartha Safe Technology Initiative represents informed citizens including parents, scientists, doctors, engineers, and educators. Our purpose is to raise awareness about, and advocate for, the use of safe, wired technology, rather than the use of wireless technology. This is based on mounting international evidence and warnings from governments, doctors and scientists alike, linking prolonged microwave radiation exposure to serious health effects, particularly for children. 


Programs, Tools and Techniques


YouTube channel to help Moms balancing technology with childhood.
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.
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!
Contact Us
6840 Seaview Rd. Sechelt BC V0N3A4 
Tel: 1-888-896-6346
Fax: 1-877-896-6346
Zone'in Programs Inc. 2014