Balanced Technology Management Champion Status:
for Canadian Governments, Health Units, Elementary Schools, and Technology Production Corporations

History and Rationale

Children engage in an average of eight hours per day of combined technology use (television, movies, video games, internet, iPods, cell phones), causing health impairments and delays in development affecting student productivity in school (1). 14.3% of Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness (2), 15% are developmentally delayed (3), and 15% obese (4). Child aggression caused by media violence has teachers and parents struggling to manage complex and confusing child behaviors in classrooms and at home (5). Elementary schools are allowing computers to take precedence over playgrounds, recess and gym time, removing an essential opportunity for physical activity and social contact with peers (6).

While research indicates comprehension and memory are compromised with screen reading (7), schools continue to increase their use of computer use by creating the “virtual” classroom. While research shows the ability to print is integral to achieving literacy and improves performance in all academic subjects (8), primary teachers are spending only 14 minutes per day in printing instruction (9), causing continued decline in Canadian literacy (10). Without any existing research to support its widespread use, technology is wreaking havoc on the entire education system, eroding child health, literacy and the ability of children to succeed.

Children have not biologically evolved to accommodate technology’s sedentary yet chaotic existence, and the sustainability of Canadian children is now in question. Connection to technology has disconnected children from what they need to grow and succeed: movement, touch, nature, and connection with other humans. Research shows children need to move to learn (11). Stimulation to the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile sensory systems promotes development of core posture, bilateral coordination of the body and eyes, praxis (ability to perform planned movement patterns), as well as achieves of optimal arousal states for learning. Playgrounds, gyms and classrooms can be re-designed to ensure children receive adequate sensory stimulation to optimize motor development and learning. By managing balanced use of technology with achievement of critical factors for child health and academic success, Canadian schools become leaders on the world stage of child health and literacy.

Balanced Technology Management Initiatives

Partnerships formed between Zone’in Programs Inc. and government sectors, health units, schools, and technology production corporations, will serve to enact necessary social change to ensure the future sustainability and success of Canadian children. The following Balanced Technology Management Initiatives are proposed for 2009/10. Outcomes measures are decreased obesity, enhanced developmental milestones, decreased child mental illness and use of psychotropic medication, decreased child aggression, improved academic performance, and increased child literacy.

Health, Education and Social Government Initiatives

  • Regulate minimum standards for school playground structures, access to nature, and inclusion of vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile equipment and strategies for gyms and classrooms with consultation from Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and certified sensory specialist.
  • Educate government personnel in the health, education and social sectors regarding the impact of technology overuse on child health and academic performance through distribution of Zone’in Newsletter and participation in the Zone’in Foundation Series Workshops.
  • Sponsor a one week “unplug” campaign in schools, community and health units.
  • Regulate and legislate control of media violence in television, movies, internet and video games according to recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Media Public Education.

Health Professional Initiatives

  • Take a routine family technology usage history and use the Zone’in Rx Pad.
  • Provide parents and caregivers with research based practical information using educational brochures, PSA’s, media articles.
  • Educate the general public regarding child technology overuse by training pediatric occupational therapists as Zone’in Instructors for public workshops.
  • Follow the Unplug – Don’t Drug protocol of supporting a 3 month family “unplug” trial prior to behavior diagnosis and medication.

School Initiatives

  • Educate school personnel regarding the impact of technology overuse on child health and academic performance through distribution of Zone’in Newsletter and participation in the Foundation Series Workshops.
  • Add printing back to curriculum and build foundation skills with developmentally relevant strategies using the Zone’in and Move’in Programs.
  • Spending freeze on technology and diversion of allocated funds to ensure playground structures meet minimum standards for child development, detailed in June 2009 Zone’in Newsletter.
  • Regulate use of technology in school settings e.g. limitations for screen reading, internet access, video games, iPod and cell phone use, and prohibit use during recess, lunch and gym times.
  • Stop telling parents their child has ADHD and needs medication, and ensure daily access to “green space” for attention restoration.
  • Instruct students regarding appropriate use of technology with reference to overuse, balanced use, aggression, cyberbullying and sextexting using the Live’in Resource Guide and the Unplug’in Game.

Technology Production Corporation Initiatives

  • Inclusion of consumer educational literature with all technology products regarding possible risk of technology addiction and risk of child aggression.
  • Development of an online help network for children with technology addictions including informative articles, blog forum, video clips.
  • Reduction of violent content in media (television, movies, video games, internet) to no more than one “intentional harm” incident per 10 minute period.
  • Inclusion of Balanced Technology Management recommendations for homes and schools on technology production corporation websites, product literature and in advertising created in conjunction with Cris Rowan.
  • Participation in research regarding the effects of technology use on child health and academic performance.
  • Fiscal support to communities and schools that purchase technology products to be used for playground, gym and classroom equipment, as well as for access to nature, music, arts, theatre and dance, to counteract the negative effects of technology on children.

Balanced Technology Management Champion Status

Governments, health units, schools and technology production corporations that achieve above noted Balanced Technology Management Initiatives will receive Zone’in Programs Inc. Balanced Technology Management Champion Status. BTM Champion Status is a stamp of approval that can be placed on websites or product literature, assuring parents that the government, health unit, school or technology product in question, meets the minimum health and academic standards for balanced technology management use by children.

Should your organization wish to participate with Zone’in Programs Inc. in implementation of Balanced Technology Management Initiatives, please contact Cris Rowan using below contact information to arrange a meeting.

Supporting Research

  • Rideout VJ, Vandewater EA, Wartella EA. Zero to six: electronic media in the lives of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Menlo Park (CA): Kaiser Family Foundation; Fall 2003.
  • Waddell C, Hua JM, Garland O, DeV. Peters R, McEwan K. Preventing Mental Disorders in Children: A Systematic Review to Inform Policy-Making. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2007; 98(3): 166-173.
  • Hamilton S. Screening for developmental delay: Reliable, easy-to-use tools. Journal of Family Practice. 2006; 55 (5): 416-422.
  • Tremblay MS, Katzmarzyk PT, Willms JD. Temporal trends in overweight and obesity in Canada, 1981-1996. International Journal of Obesity. 2002; 26(4): 538-543.
  • Anderson CA, Berkowitz, L, Donnerstein E, Huesmann LR, Johnson JD, Linz D, Malamuth NM, Wartella E. The Influence of Media Violence on Youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 2003; 4:81-110.
  • Information received from Foundation Series Workshop participant comments.
  • Mangen, A. Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion. Journal of Research. 2008; 31(4):404-419.
  • Graham S, Harris K, Mason L, Fink-Chorzempa B, Moran S, Saddler B (2008) How Do Primary Grade Teachers Teach Handwriting? A National Survey. To be published in Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.
  • Graham S, and Weintraub N. (1996) A Review of Handwriting Research: Progress and Prospects from 1980 to 1994. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 7-87.
  • National Center for Education Statistics, 2005. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/.
  • Ratey JJ, Hagerman E (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little, Brown and Company, New York.

Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi, SIPT, Approved Provider for AOTA
CEO for Zone’in Programs Inc. and Sunshine Coast Occupational Therapy Inc.
6840 Seaview Rd. Sechelt, BC, Canada V0N3A4
604-885-0986 p, 604-885-0389 f
info@zonein.ca, www.zonein.ca