Save your Child's Brain Part III: The Electronic Fast: Pressing the Brain's Reset Button September 08 2018

We are fortunate to have as a guest blogger, Victoria Dunckley, MD, who has done ground-breaking work on helping families in de-toxing children, especially sensitive ones, from technological overstimulation. Author of the book “Reset Your Childs’ Brain, A Three-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time, “she has identified the formal diagnosis “Effects of Electronic Screen Time,” or EEST. She has developed a three-part mini-course for parents and teachers entitled, “Save Your Child’s Brain.”. We will post all three parts on our blog, with thanks to Dr. Dunckley.  

Save Your Child’s Brain Part III
The Electronic Fast: Pressing the Brain's Reset Button

3 Week Plan: Ingredients for Success
This is modified from my course and is what I practice with my private patients.  The plan essentially involves a month's time, from preparation to completing the fast.  The plan itself is simple, but the actual implementation of it in today's world can be difficult.

Putting the plan into action requires:

  • an understanding of the nature and severity of the toxicity; 
  • the ability to effectively communicate that toxicity to others; 
  • motivation and discipline; 
  • a little creativity;
  • a lot of support!
Parents seem to fall into four camps:
    1. Smooth Sailing- both parents believe that video/electronic games may be a culprit causing their child's problems, or may have come to me already knowing this is the case.  They don't feel conflicted about implementing electronics removal, and just need structure and a plan.  
    2. Resistance- at least one of the parents resists, and there are a variety of reasons for this.  It may be they're not convinced, or that they play themselves, or that they feel it gives them a break.  
    3. Inadequate Support- for example, one parent is on board but another caregiver undermines the removal effort(s).  
    4. Trouble Following Through- the parent(s) is convinced, but doesn't have the energy, motivation, or structure to stick with it

    Aside from # 1, the other "camps" are dealt with according to the parents' needs and individual circumstances.  For example, if a parent feels overwhelmed and considers the game playing to be a respite, we problem solve ways to give the parent regular breaks in other ways.   

    Over time, I began to realize that the parents needed more than just information, they needed the support and tools to implement the plan effectively... 

    The goal of the course is to find the holes in the plan and plug them up! 

    And now, the Nuts and Bolts. 

    Phase 1: Preparation 

    This phase can take anywhere from a couple of hours to several days.  While you do want to prepare for success, I've noticed that when parents wait too long, they lose momentum and may not try the plan at all.  Preparation consists of:

    • Planning and structuring free time
    • Getting the child's caregivers on the same page
    • Informing your child

    Phase 2: The Electronic Fast

    This phase should be at least three weeks. Why? Depending on the amount of exposure, your child's particular vulnerabilities, age and other factors, it can take up to 2 weeks just to "reset" and normalize brain function. So we give the brain three weeks to rest, rejuvenate, reset, and heal. 

    At the end of the three weeks, you and your spouse or partner can take a hard look at what effects you've noticed, and then decide on elimination vs. moderation.  This is another critical time when parents need more support, because this can feel like a huge decision.

    ACTION PLAN For Day 3 :

    1. Share this email with your spouse/partner and any other regular caretakers.
    2. Which camp are you in? Knowing this will help us figure out where to plug up the holes.
    3. Look deep inside yourself and access your intuition. Do you feel the investment of time and energy is worth the benefits?

    List all your concerns of what could happen upon removal.  Start with immediate concerns (like tantrums), followed by concerns during the fast period, and finally concerns after the fast. These concerns are real and need to be dealt with for the plan to succeed. 

    For more help and detailed exercises, see the book,
    Reset Your Child's Brain.