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, especially by
very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). As a
pediatric occupational therapist, I’m calling on parents,
teachers and governments to ban the use of all
handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years.
Following are 10 research-based reasons for this ban.
Please visit zonein.ca to view the Zone’in Fact Sheet for
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 overexposure to technologies (cell
phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be
associated with executive functioning and attention
deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased
impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g.
tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).
2. Delayed Development Technology use restricts
movement, which can result in delayed development.
One in three children now enter school developmentally
delayed, negatively impacting 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
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 obese individuals are at higher
risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely
shortening life expectancy (Center for Disease Control
and Prevention 2010). Largely 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
6. Aggression Violent media content can cause 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
7. Digital dementia High speed media content can
contribute to 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
8. Addictions As parents attach more and more to
technology, they are detaching from their children. In
the absence of parental attachment, detached children
can attach to devices, which can result in addiction
(Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are
addicted to technology (Gentile 2009).
9. Radiation emission In May of 2011, the World Health
Organization classified cell phones (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
three 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 http://www.zonein.ca
under “videos” to 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 Technology Use Guidelines for 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.