A pediatric therapist wants all handheld devices to be banned for children until age 12

kids playing Wii video game
CC BY 2.0 Sherif Salama

“Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology.”

These are the deeply disturbing words of Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist, who believes that children nowadays are not being raised in a sustainable manner. Hand-held technology such as cell phones, tablets, and electronic games have infiltrated children’s lives to such an extent that the psychological and physical repercussions are very serious.

Rowan is calling on adults, particularly parents and teachers, to take a radical stand against hand-held technology and ban it completely until children are at least 12 years old. In an excellent (and, doubtlessly, highly controversial) article for the Huffington Post, she cites 10 reasons for why this needs to be done immediately. Here I list 4 of the most frightening and convincing, but please check out the original article for closer reading, especially if you have kids.

Rapid brain growth

Rowan explains that infants’ brains triple in size between 0 and 2 years, and continue to grow rapidly until age 21. Overusing technology results in reduced exposure to external environmental stimuli that aid with brain development, and can actually impair it, resulting in attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity, and inability to self-regulate, i.e. more tantrums.

Mental illness

I was shocked to learn that 1 in 6 Canadian children has a diagnosed mental illness, for which they require dangerous psychotropic medication. Overexposure to technology is associated with depression, anxiety, attention deficit, attachment disorder, bipolar disorder, and problematic behaviour.


Parents are addicted to their hand-held devices, which means they detach from their children; when that happens, children attach to their devices, which means that the devices are actually replacing real parents for many kids – a fact that I find absolutely tragic. One in every 11 kids is actually addicted to technology, says Rowan.


Many adults have become so used to physical and sexual violence in media that they can hardly see it for what it is, making them incapable of moderating it judiciously on behalf of their children (or, I wonder if perhaps they’re just too lazy). Much of the media content to which children are now exposed is utterly inappropriate for them – and kids can’t filter out this stuff – to the point that “the U.S. has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk due to the causal impact on child aggression.”

The world needs more outspoken articles like Rowan’s. Most people probably won’t listen or change their parenting ways, but her arguments are good enough for me. I’m not going to let my kids play on my phone anymore.

Tags: Health | Kids | Technology


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