Calm Child Today, Dead Child Tomorrow?

Vancouver, BC – While today’s parents think it’s OK for their young children to sit for long periods and watch violent TV or videogames, they don’t seem to like the resulting behavior problems. ADHD, ADD, Autism, Anxiety Disorders, Attachment Disorders, Bi-polar Disorder, Depression (and we’re only at the ‘D’s') are but a few of the rising incidence of diagnoses assigned to North American children. Procedures for assessing and diagnosing these children are exhaustive, completely overwhelming the education and health care systems, often resulting in medication as a first line of treatment. Psychotrophic (mind altering) medications are now being prescribed to 15% of elementary children. Ritalin use is so prevalent, one Canadian elementary teacher reports 7 of her 24 students are now ‘popping’ this pill.

What parents and teachers often don’t know is that these drugs have not been tested for use with children, and reviews of existing studies, show these drugs often have no therapeutic effect. It’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen to the children who use these drugs long term. Addiction, neurotoxicity (death of neurons), and altered neurochemistry (having to take more to achieve the same results) are all unknown factors for children taking psychotrohic medications.

This issue begs the question “Why does North America diagnose and medicate children, when in Europe mental diagnoses in children are virtually unheard of”? In North America, pharmaceutical companies have the highest revenues of any business in the US, and spend more that 25% of these revenues on marketing. North Americian drug marketing is so slick, that drug availability actually determines diagnosis, regardless of adequate research. Why? Well, apparently the research is ‘too expensive’. So expensive in fact, that in 1999 the US Congress enacted the FDA Modernization Act 1999 Title 21 USC 505A (g) which offers subsidies to pharmaceutical companies to research psychotrophic medications on children. Unfortunately this initiative has failed, with pharmaceutical companies stating compliance and ethical issues. Who would knowingly allow their child to take an unproven, untested drug?

The obvious alternative to medicating young children is to unplug them from technology. Unplug, don’t drug, it’s that simple. Children have now reached an ‘addiction’ level of 6.5 hours per day of TV and videogames, with 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. Unplugging children from all forms of technology (television, videogames, cell phones, computers, iPods, MSN, Facebook, 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. Yet drugs are so tempting…oh the lure of the quick fix.

Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist, is a champion in the fight against technology. Rowan reports that over the past decade, she has observed a gradual decline in mental and physical health of young children, resulting in an unprecedented rise in developmental and attachment disorders. With childhood diagnoses skyrocketing, Rowan has also observed the medication of these children rise. Rowan states “Some of our brightest children are being drugged into ‘submission’. Even though our society has become physically sedentary and ‘techno obsessed’, we don’t have the right to push this trend onto our small children, who actually need to movement to develop properly and thrive”. In Rowan’s Foundation Series Workshops, she remarks that society only need to look to the past to see the changes technology has made in the human condition. Rowan asks adults to remember back when they were children. They 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. Parents knew the value of playing outside with friends, and didn’t seem to worry about how kids got home. Rowan says we live in the “Me Generation”, a world where children get what they want and adults seem to have forgotten what it means to parent. Hard work and independent thinking have been replaced with immediate gratification, eliminating a child’s ‘inner drive’ and will to succeed. As inner drive is a ‘force of the spirit’, essential for the survival of our species, future sustainability of our children now comes into question. Rowan asks the important question “Who exactly will be saving our planet, when they are all plugged into TV or videogames?” Rowan recommends initiatives for parents and teachers regarding ‘Unplugging’ their children, while also increasing a child’s physical activity and outdoor play. She states that physical activity should be at a level of four hours per day for pre-school age, and two hours per day for elementary aged children. Rowan also describes how this rough and tumble playtime will provide adequate touch, movement and connection stimulation necessary for optimal child neurological development.

So before considering drugging a child, health care and education systems would be wise to work in conjunction with teachers and parents to explore the more healthy and natural ‘unplug’ alternative.

Media can visit Cris Rowan’s websites www.zoneintraining.com, www.zoneinproducts.com and www.zoneinworkshops.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