By: Leslie Bedell, D.C.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average child in this country watches four hours of television every day. If you combine that with cell phones, I pads, and Social Media is can be up to 8-10 hours. Families are spending increasingly less time together and gravitating more to screens for individual entertainment.
The television is on in most American homes during meal times and frequently is a background noise during the day.
Recent studies show that children are receiving more life-shaping information from television and the Internet than they are from their parents and teachers. Much of this information revolves around sex, violence and pleasure-seeking fantasies. The US Surgeon General David Satcher has stated that the high exposure of children to violence on TV and in video games has become a public health hazard. A report on Violence on Television done by the American Psychological Association shows that children are more likely to act out aggressively with hitting, yelling and arguing after watching violent programs. They also show a greater incidence of leaving tasks unfinished, and impatience with increased screen viewing time, whether television or computer. Many parents use the television as a “babysitter”, literally programming their child's brains with countless hours of negative images and messages. Children may not even understand the difference between violence on television and in real life since they cannot “feel” the painful consequences of violent images they see on a screen.
The human brain continues to grow for the three years after birth with the most rapid time of development being the first two years of life. The child's brain is like a sponge, literally absorbing the world around them and creating life-long neuronal connections as the right and left hemispheres begin to differentiate. This phenomenon is called “neural plasticity”. A form of “non-verbal” thinking develops in the infant brain, which is primarily a sensory receptor in which emotional and visual experiences are taken in without the filter of reasoning that the left-brain allows. In fact, the powerful neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Dopamine don't even get produced until the child is between eight and nine years old. Without these mediating nerve chemicals, the child literally takes in everything it is exposed to and accepts it as reality. Considering how complex and fragile this neural plasticity is, and the long-lasting effect the process can have on moods and memory, many neurologists and brain scientists feel that children under three should not watch any moving images on television, computers, or video.
Studies also show that language skills decrease as children watch more and more television. Young children stare at screens, appearing dazed and transfixed, often becoming passive and non-communicative. The fast moving images become like a “drug”, soothing them into passivity and a trance-like state.
Other children's brains get so “programmed” by the fast moving images and stimulating violent action that it becomes addictive and they are bored without it. When the parent and teacher talk in a normal tone and speed, the child's brain is moving too fast to pay attention. Boredom comes easily for these children and they frequently act out and misbehave just to create some sort of excitement. Frequently these kids are labeled Attention-Deficit and placed on psychotropic drugs like Ritalin. Their brains have never learned to sit still and create visual images in their own right hemispheres but have instead been programmed by outside stimuli that the real world of school and learning cannot keep up with. These kids look for increasingly rapid and stimulating activities to keep their brains happy, gravitating towards reckless, dangerous, and self-stimulating friends, sports, and drugs. The more stimulation they receive, the more they want and need to keep their neurochemistry satisfied Add to this the fact that most children in schools have been fed sugar and starch foods for breakfast which lead to blood sugar crashes later in the day and it's no wonder that their brain chemistry is altered.
Fortunately, more and more parents are open to finding answers for their children's emotional, social, and mental challenges. A recent study shows an alarming increase in doctors writing prescriptions for not only Ritalin and Clonidine but also Prozac and Paxil for children under the age of five. There seem to be new ones all the time, some you have to take two to make it work even better. Medicating does not address the underlying causes.To label these behavioral disorders all “chemical imbalances”, depression or ADD/ADHD without a thorough evaluation of the many and varied causes, is a grave injustice.
It is imperative that parents and teachers become more involved in finding solutions for this epidemic of learning disorders and increasing tendency towards violent behavior in our children. Re-evaluating how much time is spent in front of television and computer screens can be the first step. Helping a child to learn from story-telling and creative outlets where they use their active imaginations and fantasy world is a healthy alternative.
A recent article in Mothering magazine stated that The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch any TV or videos, and that older children watch only one to two hours per day of non-violent educational TV. The television and computer would not be such an issue if adults spent more time with their children. Perhaps parents and teachers need to become better role models by turning their own electronics off more often.
By Leslie Bedell, D.C.
ADHD is the most common behavior disorder affecting American children, affecting over 4 million. Although once thought to only affect children, it has now been shown that it is genetically passed from one generation to the next and continues into adulthood. Many adults have struggled with the problem and not been diagnosed. Dr. Kenneth Blum, researcher in brain chemistry and addiction, has co-authored a book with David Miller called Overload: Attention Deficit Disorder and the Addictive Brain. David Miller discusses in detail the common symptoms, which include difficulty focusing attention, organizing tasks, following tasks to completion, inability to wait, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. He also relates the problems associated with the consequences of these symptoms including underachievement, poor memory, low frustration tolerance, low self esteem, and life out of control. It is a compulsive disorder, usually genetic in origin, where the neurons in the brain have trouble communicating with each other.
Dr. Blum's research since 1990 has been focused on a genetic abnormality of the neurotransmitter system of the brain linked to feelings of cravings and addiction. The brain chemical called Dopamine has specific receptor sites that are altered with this genetic defect. A healthy flow of neurotransmitters from a brain without this receptor defect is called the Brain Reward Cascade. The “reward” results in feelings of pleasure, peace, and well-being. In brains with this genetic variation, an aberrant flow of neurotransmitters results. This causes a lack of reward which Dr. Blum has termed Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS). He feels that as many as one third of the population may display this condition.
Experiments since 1990 have found a variety of conditions related to this disorder, including impulsive, compulsive, and addictive behaviors, drug and alcohol dependency, smoking, carbohydrate bingeing, gambling, and also Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This eye-opening book cites many scientific findings clearly showing the relationship of ADHD to alcoholism and other addictions. David Miller, a clinician and counselor, is also a recovered addict diagnosed with ADHD who offers amazing insight into this connection. He also emphasizes the importance of early intervention and treatment of children with ADHD symptoms before they progress into the inevitable use of addictive substances like alcohol and drugs.
New scientific research is leading to innovative treatment programs that are faster, less costly, and show greater potential for lasting recovery. The most effective utilize a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating techniques that treat the patient holistically. The components of treatment for both ADHD and Addictions must be multifactorial addressing Spiritual, Mental/Emotional, Physical, and Biochemical/Metabolic needs.
Current research by Dr. Kenneth Blum and Dr. Jay Holder recently published in Molecular Psychiatry, a journal of Nature magazine, cites evidence that people in treatment for addictive behaviors can benefit from a Chiropractic treatment called Torque Release Technique. This technique utilizes a spring-loaded adjusting instrument approved by the FDA called an Integrator. Dr. Holder and a University of Miami biostatistician did one randomized placebo-controlled study at Exodus drug-treatment center in Miami. The results showed residents completing their treatment program at a remarkable 100% rate when Torque Release Technique was used in conjunction with nutrition, 12-step programs, and Auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture).
The disease of addictions and compulsive disorders affects more than 50 million people and costs our government over 300 billion dollars annually. This is considered to be our country's number one cause of death and crime. The jails are overflowing with addicts who commit crimes to obtain their drugs of choice, only to get released and return to their lives of addiction. It is clear that more effective treatments are needed for this epidemic.
The C.Ad (Certified Addictionologist) credential has been earned by nearly 1,000 Chiropractors who are positioned to offer at least one major treatment component with their spinal adjustments. Most of these Chiropractors are utilizing the Torque Release Technique as well as nutritional supplements and referrals to 12-Step programs.
Dr. Leslie Bedell has been utilizing Torque Release Technique in her office at Agape Chiropractic Healing Center since 2005. She received her Post Graduate Board Certificatiion in Addictionology. Her office has helped hundreds of young patients, many of whom have found help with learning challenges such as ADHD. She has conducted clinical research with ADHD as well as Autism. Trained by Cloud-Townsend Communications to facilitate small recovery groups and has taught classes in Boundaries, Life Recovery Skills groups for men, women, and teens. Dr. Bedell works with other health professionals in order to offer multidisciplinary resources to adults and children seeking help for addictions and compulsive disorders. She can be reached at 425-888-1670 and is available for speaking engagements.