Smart phones, laptops, tablets, portable media players – how many devices do your children have? In our modern world of wireless technology our children seem to have more and more electronic devices. Some of these make our lives easier. Statistics show that the average age for children to receive their first mobile phones is 10 years old. We often provide our children with a mobile phone to take to school so they can reach us whenever they need to. Many children travel to school with public transport and have a mobile phone for emergencies.
Internet activity has soared with YouTube videos, social media networking, games and music downloads. We live in an instant access online world with our mobile networks becoming faster and handling more data.
Tots as young as two or three years old use a tablet for games or educational apps. Let’s face it, sometimes it makes a great babysitter. Research is showing that children between 12 and 15 years old are now going online for up to 20 hours a week. Children are spending more time on their mobile phones and tablets for homework, gaming and social media. As their online activity increases year-on-year, the question we ask is: Is all this wireless technology safe?
What are the concerns?
All wireless devices emit microwave radiation to send and receive information. When switched on, they are constantly downloading and uploading data or continually emitting to maintain the connection to a mobile network. With Wi-Fi and mobile data on, most devices transmit continuously, 24/7. Scientists are concerned that long-term exposure to microwave radiation can affect our health. The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) recently announced there is a link between long-term exposure to this type of radiofrequency radiation and brain cancer in animals.
The American Brain Tumor Association has published findings that brain and central nervous system cancers are the most common cancer in the 15 to 19 year old age group. This combined with research from Sweden where studies are showing an increase in malignant brain tumours on the side of the head where the mobile phone is most commonly held suggests that risk management should be a priority.
It’s not just about the danger of holding a mobile phone up to your ear, constant exposure to Wi-Fi and other wireless devices has a cumulative effect. As the Environmental Health Trust reports, “Children who start using a mobile phone as teenagers develop 4 to 8 times more brain cancers than those who began to use phones later in life. Experimental studies are showing significant neurological changes from exposure to microwave radiation levels that meet FCC guidelines. Environmental exposures at critical periods can have profound effects on foetal and childhood development.”
Even mobile data connections with weak 3G/4G reception can exceed current medical exposure guidelines. The longer-lasting the microwave exposure on children, the more likely it will begin to affect their bodies. They are smaller, their bones are thinner, their cells are still growing and the radiation penetrates deeper. This technology has never been safety tested for children or foetuses.
Additionally, many children use their devices on their lap, where our reproductive organs reside and latest research indicates DNA damage and fertility problems later in life.
What is the official position?
A mounting body of evidence indicates that radiation from mobile phones and wireless devices causes biological harm. While some governments have not yet adjusted their radiation exposure guidelines in more than 20 years to reflect current science, other governments and health departments have:
- The UK Department of Health recommends that children under 16 should use mobile phones for short, essential calls only.
- The French government has banned Wi-Fi in nursery schools and advertising of mobile phones to children under 14, and is banning mobile phones and limiting Wi-Fi in schools in favour of hard-wired connections.
- The European Environment Agency has called for governments, industry and the public to adopt measures to reduce children’s exposure.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization has classified mobile phones as group “Group 2B”, which means that they “possibly” cause cancer in humans.
- The Israeli parliament has recommended an education programme to alert pupils to the potential dangers of mobile phone use.
- Berkeley in California has passed regulations requiring cell phone retailers provide the following safety notice to customers: “If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation.”.
- In Canada, the country’s public health service has issued new guidelines over children’s mobile phone use, which include practical advice for under-18s on how to reduce exposure to radiation.
What can I do?
Education, education, education! Until public health policy catches up with scientific evidence, education and awareness of your technology is the most beneficial solution for you and your family. Wireless Education provides online courses for you and your family to use your technology safely. Parents, older children, teachers and corporate staff — well, anyone, really — is welcome to take this quick Free Quiz to learn a bit about technology safety: https://www.wirelesseducation.org/free quiz
Individuals wishing to learn more can take the following e-learning course for about the price of a movie ticket. In less than an hour, you will have a good understanding of the issues and recommended solutions. You will also be able to print a handy sheet to hang on the refrigerator or a bulletin board with wireless safety reminders. https://www.wirelesseducation.org/store/l2/