How times have changed. When I was a child the only screen we had in my house was the TV. Now screens are ubiquitous. It’s becoming the norm to see children, even toddlers with laptops and tablets on their laps, or clutching on to smartphones.
The kids are happy because they can play games, watch cartoons, surf the Internet, message their friends, and do their homework. Parents and grandparents are happy because it keeps the kids occupied so that they can get on with doing other things. But are these technologies safe… or are our children being exposed to potentially harmful EMF radiation from phones, tablets, and laptops?
It May Be a “Laptop” but Keep it Off Your Kid’s Lap
The most dangerous aspect of using computers on laps are the electromagnetic field exposures (EMFs). Few people realize that all computers emit EMFs on many different frequencies. Magnetic fields and electric fields are always present. Radio frequency radiation or microwave radiation is increasingly present.
If your child’s laptop or tablet can connect to the Internet wirelessly, via WiFi or Bluetooth or other, then that means they are being exposed to microwave radiation.
You might think that these exposures are very low power and therefore are perfectly safe… or aren’t they?
The Most Dangerous Aspect of Computers On Laps
It is widely accepted that these radio frequency radiation microwave exposures are very low level. But studies are now telling us that these exposures have the potential to cause significant harm. These man-made exposures are quite unlike anything that exists in nature. And, because laptops, tablets and the like are used in such close proximity to the body, they are particularly dangerous.
What’s the Harm of EMF Radiation?
These EMF exposures impact the body in a number of ways. Notably they are known to compromise cell membrane function, calcium and antioxidant balance, DNA, and blood brain barrier permeability.
Here is a non-inclusive list of diseases linked to EMF exposures of the type given off by tablets and laptops:
- Brain tumors
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
Dr. Magda Havas, Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University in Canada, is a leading researcher in this field. She states:
“The scientific evidence clearly shows that microwave radiation at levels well below [international] guidelines…with Wi-Fi routers causes cancer in laboratory animals, causes heart palpitations in sensitive adults, causes reduced sperm motility and viability, and is associated with symptoms of electrosensitivity that include – but are not limited to – cognitive dysfunction, pain, fatigue, mood disorders (depression, anxiety, irritability), dizziness, nausea, weakness, skin problems, and tinnitus.”
Strong Warnings from Official Organizations about Laptop EMFs
Perhaps the most pertinent warning is that given by Federal Communications Commission Office of Engineering & Technology (FCC) which is the organization responsible for evaluating the safety of these devices. The FCC report, OET Bulletin 65, states that computer laptop type devices need to be placed at least 20 cm (approximately 8 inches) from the body.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also made its position clear with regard to WiFi radiation type exposures. In May 2011 the WHO issued a statement classifying these exposures as a possible class 2B carcinogen.
Growing Kids are Particularly at Risk from EMF Radiation
Children are not “small versions” of adults. Multiple studies indicate that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these EMFs. Which means that you as a parent or grandparent need to be particularly vigilant.
Children in schools with WiFi are increasingly complaining of heart palpitations and feelings of weakness and fatigue in the classroom. Several students in one school area in Canada have experienced sudden cardiac arrest. As a result some schools are now installing defibrillators (for sudden cardiac arrest) and removing microwave ovens, whose signal interferes with the WiFi routers.
One of the most tragic recent cases is that of British school girl Jenny Fry. Unable to live with the WiFi in her school, Jenny was found hanging in woods close to her home last year. Speaking after the inquest Jenny’s mother said, “WiFi and children do not mix. I believe that WiFi killed my daughter.”
Other Reasons to Not Allow Computers On Laps
Beyond the EMF question there are numerous other good reasons not to allow children to use laptops and tablets on their laps. One important one is posture.
A study carried out in Finland on 436 schoolchildren found that daily computer use of two hours or more increased the risk of pain in the neck and shoulders (21% of the children), pain in the head (20%), and pain in the lower back (16%). Girls were affected more than boys.
Some studies also point to behavioral issues with excessive screen use. The more our children immerse themselves in the cyber world, the less they develop their real life social skills. Children need to go out into the world. They need to move and interact in real time, face to face, not just via a screen.
Tips for Safe Computer Use for Kids
Here are some tips to promote safer computer use for your children:
- Prefer laptops which are hard wired via an Ethernet cable and used on a desk or table, over tablets
- Lay down specific times when computer use is allowed
- Implement a safe browsing protocol. Google offers this as do numerous Internet providers − which operates via a safe search function
- Consider installing parental control software to give you control over how your kids access the Internet
- If your children are young it’s better to keep the computer in an open area where supervision is easy
- Studies show that computer use is particularly harmful at night. Do not allow computer use in the 2 hours preceding bedtime
Perhaps, most important, is to have a conversation with your kids about computer use. They might be too young to understand about the dangers of EMF radiation exposure, but start by educating them in Internet safety etiquette and privacy issues.