In an effort to show parents the damaging effects of technology overuse on children, paediatric occupational therapist Cris Rowan has released a book titled Virtual Child: The Terrifying Truth About What Technology is Doing to Children.
"My mission is to change the way children use technology forever," Rowan said.
She has been a paediatric occupational therapist for more than 20 years and has worked in the school system for 10 years, helping children with learning disabilities.
"I really started to see a shift in the type of kids I was helping," she said. "Previously I was seeing a lot of kids with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, and these are classic sort of more severe disabilities. Then it was more attention problems, sensory processing problems, motor delays and kind of a whole different group of kids. So I started thinking 'OK, what's changed here?' Seeing a lot of the kids I was working with were fairly sedentary, I started asking questions like 'what is your usage for TV and video games?' I saw that the kids I was working with also had a high usage of technology and so I really felt like I wasn't getting to the issue, which was the technology use."
She stepped away from her role as an occupational therapist and "dove into the research" for five years. What she found reinforced her belief that technology overuse is detrimental to a child's ability to learn.
"The more I found out, the more I got impassioned about telling others," she added. "I work with parents as a private consultant, and so many of them haven't a clue about the detrimental impact of technology and aren't really putting the two together. And we're not doing, as health professionals, a very good job of educating them either."
The self-published book helps show parents the effects of technology overuse and also provides suggestions to help children disconnect. Not surprisingly, many of those suggestions point to Rowan's own Zone-In programs, which she has created to be used as practical tools by parents, educators, therapists and children.
The various products designed by Rowan are said to enhance attention, improve literacy skills and balance technology use to improve child health and productivity.
Rowan's new book is available at Talewind Books in Sechelt and also on-line at www.zonein.ca.