EWG’s big picture recommendations for wireless devices
- Default to airplane mode.
- Increase distance from devices.
- Turn off when not in use.
- Used wired devices if possible.
Children are almost constantly exposed to wireless [electromagnetic] radiation, starting as early as the first weeks of life. As they get older, that exposure grows every day, thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, laptops and other wireless devices in the classroom and at home.
Wireless devices radiate radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Research has raised concerns about the health risks of exposure to this radiation, including harm to the nervous and reproductive systems, and higher risk of cancer. Cell phone radiation was classified a “possible carcinogen” in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization. The agency said human epidemiological studies showed a link between higher risk of a type of malignant brain cancer and cell phone use.
Parents and caregivers can exert more control over their kids’ wireless radiation exposure at home than at school, and have more latitude to try new ways of using devices.
To begin, inventory your home’s electronic devices.
- Strongly encourage your child not to sleep near their wireless gadgets. If this isn’t possible – and let’s face it, with teenagers, you may not succeed at wresting the phone or tablet away – try to convince them to place it away from their head instead of under a pillow.
- Even better, keep electronics out of bedrooms as much as possible, or at least away from beds. This includes TV screens and audio speakers.
- Use an old-fashioned electric or battery alarm clock that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. And get one for your children if they claim to need their cell phone so they can get up in the morning.
- Move beds away from utility meters or large appliances, which also emit radiation, even if they’re on the other side of a wall.
Studying, playing and communicating
- Experts recommend starting a child’s cell phone use as late as practical, considering the family and educational context and needs of each child. The younger kids are, the more vulnerable their bodies are to potentially harmful effects of wireless radiation exposure.
- The Environmental Health Trust’s “Wi-Fi in Schools Toolkit” offers a wealth of resources, including fact sheets and tip sheets, background on the science of EMF exposure, and guidance for parents, teachers and schools. It also has more than a dozen downloadable and printable posters on exposure and sleep, children’s development, and the effects of EMF exposure on breast cancer risk and male reproductive health.
- The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition offers a downloadable backgrounder for students and educators on “Cell Phones, Wireless and Your Health,” which includes suggested activities to use in the classroom and as homework. It includes a list of additional websites you may choose to consult. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2022/11/protecting-kids-wireless-radiation-school-and-home
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