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Dear MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith- Time to Protect Students Not Promote Pollution

Dear Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith, I am writing to you on an important issue regarding our children’s hea...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pediatric Occupational Therapist Cris Rowan Writes MCPS That Wireless "could constitute neglect of children"

Dear Montgomery County COO Dr. Andrew Zuckerman, Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers, Board of Education and Office of Technology;

In my capacity as a pediatric occupational therapist, biologist, international speaker, and author on the subject of the impact of technology on child development and learning, I’m writing to you on behalf of students, teachers, and parents requesting you reconsider the use of devices which operate using wireless radiation.

Please find below guiding principles regarding managed balance between technology and healthy activity, as well as information on wireless radiation. More judicious use of educational based technologies is a safe manner, will serve to ensure sustainable futures for all children. Reversion to Ethernet or fiber optic cable devices, until such time as the World Health Organization deems wireless to not be harmful to young children, is recommended.  

Guiding principles for the use of educational based technology in school environments.

Minimize Risk and Maximize Safety.
      Wireless radiation has not been proven safe (WHO 2011).
      Recent research indicates wireless radiation causes harmful effects to adult humans (Avendano 2012, Hardell 2013).
      Long term effects of wireless radiation on children are unknown at this time (AAP 2013).
      Children have thinner skulls, more aqueous bodies, and have rapidly developing cells, indicating they are exceedingly more vulnerable to harmful effects from wireless radiation than adults (AAP 2013, C4ST 2015).
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends no more than 1-2 hours total technology use per day, including      educational technology. Many schools exceed these expert guidelines (AAP 2014).

Weigh Risk vs. Benefit.
      Education technology is not evidence based and is laden with conflict of interest e.g. manufacturers claims are financially motivated, and are not substantiated by university level research.
      Traditional and standardized teaching methods have substantive research support and evidence, yet are being rapidly replaced with education technology.

Ensure adequate foundational skills prior to use of technology.
Children need to balance the following 4 critical factors with technology, to optimize development and learning. Time spent with technology adversely affects these factors.
·      Movement: stimulates vestibular, proprioceptive and cardiovascular systems.
·      Touch: stimulates parasympathetic system for lowered cortisol and adrenalin.
·      Human Connection: activates parasympathetic system; a life sustaining force.
·      Nature: attention restorative, improves learning, erases effects of technology.
·      See video: Messageto Schools on EdTech

Risks associated with the use of technology by children are as follows:
      Sedentary nature of technology use is causally related to the recent rise in obesity/diabetes, developmental delay and learning difficulties (Tremblay 2011, HELP EDI Mapping 2009/13, Ratey 2008, PISA 2012).
      Isolating factor of technology use is associated with escalation in social impairments, mental illnesses (including adhd and autism), and self-regulation difficulties (Houtrow 2014).
      Overstimulation from technology use is a causal factor in rise in attention deficit, aggression, sleep disturbance, and chronic stress from hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (Christakis 2004, Gentile 2009, Markman 2010, Bristol University 2010).
      Neglect of students by teachers and support staff who are engaged in their own personal technology, is unfortunately common.
      Consequently, the risks associated with using education technology far outweigh the dubious benefits.

When In Doubt, Act With Caution.
      Existing research on harmful effects of wireless radiation on adults, indicates taking a cautionary approach when considering same radiation exposure to children (AAP 2014).
      Rapid cell turnover in children creates particular concern regarding potential DNA damage from wireless radiation, and consequent susceptibility to cancer. While rise in cancer incidence is becoming more apparent, rise in rates of cancer in children will not be observable until adulthood.
      Removal of wireless radiation and reversion to Ethernet cabled devices, will ensure immediate and long term safety to all students, teachers, and support staff.
      Defaulting to a remote authority regarding removing wireless radiation from schools, is not acting in the best interests of students and staff, and may not be defensible in a court of law.

Montgomery County’s statement that the radiofrequency levels in schools “is compliant” with federal regulations does not assure safety to the students in your care.  The current proposed technology plan to further increase the use of screens in classrooms on a daily basis, clearly does not support children’s healthy development.

The implications of failure of schools to act with caution now regarding wireless radiation and technology, could potentially be horrific in both scope and magnitude, and may constitute neglect of children. Please act now to safeguard your children’s future.



Cris Rowan, BScBi, BScOT, SIPT, AOTA Approved Provider
CEO Zone’in Programs Inc. and Sunshine Coast Occupational Therapy Inc.
crowan@zonein.ca email

Scientific References are in the Full Letter

Watch Cris Rowan Explain How To Support Student Needs in Her Video On Tech Ed 
We think all teachers and staff will appreciate her thoughtful words. 

Did you know that several letters have been written to MCPS? See them here. 
Read Dr. Martha Herberts Letter
Read Dr. Anthony Miller's Letter
Read Dr. Lennart Hardells Letter .
Read Dr. Carpenters Letter 
Read Dr.  Olle Johanssons Lertter HERE. 
Read Cris Rowan, occupational therapist  Letter Here
Read Katie Singers Letter HERE. 
Read Cindy Sage and Trevor Marshals Letter Here
Read Ellie Marks Letter Here
Read Arthur Firstenbergs Letter HERE. 
Read Mikko Ahonen PhD, Lena Hedendahl MD and Tarmo Koppel MSc PhDs Letter

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