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From ‘We’ to ‘Wii’ – Human Connection vs. Technology Take the New TV and Videogame Addiction Questionnaire

Vancouver, BC – Videogames – the new babysitter, Ritalin – the new disciplinarian, Wii – the new sport, TV – the new reality, Super Mario – the new heroin, text messaging – the new conversation. While the past decade has seen incredible advances in technology, society is now beginning to detect the after math in our young children, and the picture isn’t pretty. Recent research indicates that in addition to significant physical problems caused by overuse of technology (obesity, diabetes, delayed development), children are also showing incrementally rising mental disorders (ADHD, attachment disorders, depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional conduct disorder). These mental disorders are so worrisome, the medical profession is responding by prescribing adult psychotropic (mind altering) medications, which have never been tested on children. Correct dosage for children is a ‘best guess’ and long term implications are unknown. Alternatives to diagnosing and drugging children are easy, simple and at our finger tips, yet seem so hard to accomplish for our techno obsessed parents. Parents need to turn off the TV, unplug the videogames, and go outside and play with their children!

When adult research is prolific regarding the positive benefits of movement, touch and connection to all things human, why wouldn’t these critical elements be recommended as first line treatment for children? It’s just as easy for a doctor to write a prescription for a three month ‘unplug’ trial from TV and videogames, as a prescription for Ritalin. Our culture appears to be obsessed with a ‘quick fix’ take a pill mentality, as opposed to doing the right thing for the long term sustainability of our children.

When exactly did it become abnormal for children to need to move? Society need only look to the past to see the changes technology has made in today’s human condition. Remember back when you were a child? You used to run, ride bikes and play all day. Slides were high, swings were long and merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms used to be a fixture in even the smallest town’s parks. Now children have reached ‘addiction’ level of 6.5 hours per day of TV and videogames, with research showing subsequent physical, mental and academic problems (obesity, diabetes, sleep and eating disorders, aggression, family conflict, early sexual experiences, attention problems, learning difficulties, and poor academic performance). Even though our society has become physically sedentary and ‘techno obsessed’, society doesn’t have the right to push this sedentary trend onto small children, and then medicate them when they get ‘hyper’. The human body needs to move, and when it doesn’t, it gets either agitated or ‘zoned out’, neither energy state conducive to listening or learning.

Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist concerned about the medication trend, has created a new and revolutionary program for children called Zone’in www.zonein.ca. Zone’in helps children learn to know and tone their energy zones, thus creating self responsibility for energy states. To help children reduce television and videogame (TVVG) use, the Zone’in website has a free download TVVG Help Module for parents and teachers, consisting of the following TVVG Addiction Scale, as well as the Survivor Unplugged Challenge and the TVVG Schedule.

Television/Videogame Addiction Questionnaire

Yes

No

1.

Tolerance: “I watch the same amount of TV, or play the same amount of videogames as I used to, but it’s not as fun anymore.”

2.

Withdrawal: “I can’t imagine going without TV or videogames.”

3.

Unintended Use: “I often watch TV or play videogames for longer than I intended.”

4.

Persistent Desire: “I’ve tried to stop using TV and/or videogames, but I can’t.”

5.

Time Spent: “TV and videogames take up almost all my play time.”

6.

Displacement of Other Activities: “I sometimes watch TV or play videogames, when I should be spending time with my family or friends, doing my homework or going to bed.”

7.

Continued Use: “I keep watching TV or playing videogames, even though I know it isn’t good for me.”

Total number of “yes” answers __________

If you answered “yes” to 3 or more questions, you are addicted to TV, videogames or both.

The obvious and more healthy alternative to medicating young children is to unplug them from technology. Unplug, don’t drug, it’s that simple. Unplugging children from all forms of technology e.g. television, videogames, cell phones, computers, iPods, MSN, Facebook, and Myspace, may actually eliminate the perceived need to drug them. Three months with no technology would do more for the mental and physical health of children than any medication on the market.

Media can visit Cris Rowan’s websites www.zoneintraining.com, www.zoneinworkshops.com and www.zoneinproducts.com which have a media kit, research section and a number of published articles on the impact of technology on child development. Cris has performed over 200 parents and teacher workshops, and is doing a lecture series at Simon Fraser University. Cris is finishing a book titled A Cracked Foundation: Repairing the Damage of Technology on Child Development and can be contacted for an interview on her cell 604-740-2264.

Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi
CEO Zone’in Programs Inc
6840 Seaview Rd.
Sechelt, BC V0N3A4
1-888-896-6346, 1-877-896-6346 fax
crowan@zonein.ca