Does Wi-Fi Make Kids Sick?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on August 18, 2010

Image Source: Miscellanea

Technology is meant to better human lives and make it more convenient. However, not all technological inventions are free of hazardous side-effects and Wi-Fi is a case in point. The parents in Simcoe County, north of Toronto, believe that their kids are suffering from headaches, dizziness and even racing heart beats due to hazardous radiations from WiFi transmitters.

The parents group is now lobbying the Simcoe County school board to pull the plug on Wi-Fi and has even offered to bear the cost of alternative wired networking. On one hand, parents are getting increasingly concerned over WiFi’s safety and benefits, several other schools are planning to roll out Wi-Fi networks later this year.

While I admit that children’s health should be the top concern for parents and school administrators alike, however I’m not in favor of banning Wi-Fi from schools as per the “Guilty till proven innocent” laws. So, what is the truth? Is Wi-Fi really hazardous for kids? Let’s do a reality check.

Named as ‘The Simcoe County Safe School Committee’, the group of parents argues that Wi-Fi is overkill in the school campus and can just as well be replaced with a wired network. They support their facts with evidence claiming that the mentioned symptoms disappear when kids are on vacation. So far, the school has refused to budge to parents demands to dump Wi-Fi from the school campus. While some parents are now planning to either send their children to alternative schools, a majority are hoping that the school board will eventually consider their request in interest of kids’ health.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), one of Canada’s largest teacher unions is scheduled to vote shortly on a proposal regarding prohibition of Wi-Fi from school campuses in wake of rising health concerns. Globe quotes several experts who believe that radio-frequency waves aren’t strong enough to cause any adverse health effects. Several researchers and scientists have studied the effects of radio-frequency exposure and the effect of electromagnetic fields on health but these have either been inconclusive or lacked solid evidence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that Wi-Fi networks do not pose any health risks. I understand and appreciate parents concerns over this sensitive issue and I hope that they can support their claims with evidence which can’t be ignored by the school board. Whatever be the case, “Safety First” should be the single point agenda for schools as well as parents to come to an agreement on this matter.

After all, ‘kids are the future, not the technology’! Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >

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Rob Powell August 18, 2010 at 8:58 am

Maybe we need to make science education for parents mandatory.

Gaurav Kheterpal August 19, 2010 at 2:39 am

@Rob – Parents are after all parents 😀

lori September 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi Rob Powell, My son has a racing heart during the school year. HIs heart raced 2 to 4 times a day , 2 to 30 minutes each time, 180 beats per minute until the end of June. He is a calm, relaxed laid back kid. It subsided in July and was down to racing once or twice a week for 5 to 20 seconds in August, then by the end of August, it had stopped racing. Withing 2 days of being back at school, it’s raciong again the way it did in June. I have wireless internet at home and occasionally use a microwave oven.I have taken science, I read and am educated. I am not complaing of various ailments on my sons behalf, just stating facts. Maybe you should do a little more research yourself, or try looking into the future to see the conequences of our current ignorance regarding chemical and electronic exposure. Who knows what they will suddenly realize 5, 10, or 25 years from now.

Jordan Richardson September 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Lori, have you looked into whether or not your son is experiencing anxiety attacks or panic attacks? That he’s “calm and relaxed” could just be a red herring, as panic and anxiety attacks can come out of nowhere and can be seemingly triggered by next to nothing.

With wireless internet virtually everywhere in our world, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the effects you presume it has would be more widespread?

Liza October 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Definitely stay open-minded to possible causes – I would also look into the cleanliness of the school including air ducts.

Dr Brown October 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

@lori Your son is experiencing panic attacks brought on by high anxiety. It is normal for a child to feel nervous when dealing with such a place as a school. These can also be brought on by the stress of his classes, the newness of his peers, peer pressure and just trying to fit in. All of this brings anxiety. As a parent you need to make sure that your house hold is stress free by not causing high emotional stress in your environment. That entails making your voice calm and monotone. Do not raise his anxiety through your own temperament and stress. If the bills are causing you to be anxious for example your unconscious behavior could easily transfer to your child and without you knowing it. This of course also proves that wifi has nothing to do with your sons anxiety and the way he feels at school.

lauren June 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm

@Dr. Brown. I hope you are not a real dr., attempting to make a diagnosis on a patient you have never met. It may be that this child suffers from anxiety attacks, but the schools are so overridden with wifi and other possible problems, it is quite an assumption you are making.

My son does okay in school because he is not near the transmitter, though who knows how it would be if the wifi were shut down. However, I am sure that at a younger age he suffered horribly from the effects of wifi. How do I know this? He screamed in headache pain for months, sometimes during the day, but mostly during sleep. This started shortly after adding wifi to the house, though it took me a long time to consider this option, being a techno junkie myself. Nightly screaming in pain through his sleep ended THE night we shut off the wifi. He didn’t know a change had been made (he was 4 or 5 years old), and showed similar symptoms of discomfort when it was turned back on or when we were at a restaurant sitting too close to the transmitter.

To ignore personal stories like this is to negate the entire way we approach science. Anecdotal evidence is an important factor in investigating illness.

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