Protecting kids from wireless radiation in school and at home – Environmental Working Group

Creators of Skin Deep Database Tapwater Database EWG Verified Search
Children are almost constantly exposed to wireless 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.
Getting started
To begin, inventory your home’s electronic devices. Consider smart speakers, cordless phones and mouses, gaming consoles, cell phones, wireless security systems and electric alarm clocks, among other types of technology. Even things you might not think emit electromagnetic radiofrequency radiation, like Fitbits and other wearable fitness devices, are a source of wireless radiation exposure and best for young kids to avoid.
Increase distance
The first, easiest-to-implement option is to increase the distance between your child and wireless devices in the home. The more distance, the less exposure.
Wired headphones or the speaker mode on a cell phone can put distance between the device and kids’ bodies. They should carry the device in a backpack or bag, not a pocket.
When no one is actively using the device, make sure it’s in airplane mode. Otherwise, the device will keep seeking the “signal” – it will continue trying to communicate with nearby cell towers, producing unnecessary radiation.
Another simple but important fix: Locate routers and cordless phone base stations – the worst radiation offenders – away from where your kids sleep, study and play. See if you can lower your Wi-Fi router’s output. It may be set to “High” as a default, which could create more intense wireless radiation output than anyone in your household needs. 
Choose wired
To reduce radiation exposures significantly, many experts recommend using wired devices whenever possible. Make replacing wireless headphones with wired your first step then, over time, choose auxiliary devices that plug in or are battery-powered, including keyboards, mouses and microphones. Wireless earbuds also emit radiofrequency radiation, so limit the use of such devices, especially for children and youth.
Here are some other ways to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation from wireless.
The big picture
At night
Studying, playing and communicating
Powering down
Parents and caregivers don’t have nearly as much control at school over how much their child is exposed to wireless radiation as they do at home. And with technology ever more prevalent in educational settings, chances are kids are close to a variety of devices all day.
Nearly half of U.S. schools report having a computer for every child, according to a Department of Education study. Another 37 percent have a computer for each child in some age groups. In some cases, kids may take the device home with them for long or short periods. The survey also said 70 percent of teachers use technology in the classroom.
It’s tough to shield your child from wireless radiation exposure entirely. But you can take steps to lower their exposure based on advice published by experts. Start by approaching school administrators with your concerns. Learn your school or district’s cell phone policy. If none exists, request that a committee be formed to develop a policy and plan trainings for teachers about safe technology use.
Here are a few ideas teachers can implement in the classroom or that schools and school districts can use. The gold standard: Whenever possible, use wired connections for laptops, tablets, interactive white boards, printers and other devices.
If a wired school network isn’t feasible:
From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, wireless technology became the main path for accessing education and participating in virtual classrooms for kids and families in the U.S. and across the globe. In 2020, a survey found nearly half of 2- to 4-year-olds and about two in three kids ages 5 to 8 already owned their own mobile devices, a tablet or smartphone – and that was before the Covid-19-related school closures prompted desperate working parents nationwide to employ wireless devices as babysitters and educators.
That’s many kids with constant access to wireless devices – and also exposed to the health risks of wireless radiation. Parents have taken note of these potential harms. A European citizens group coalition in March called for simple steps to protect kids by swapping wireless for cables in places where children spend time and educating the public about the dangers of exposure.
Earlier this year, EWG together with more than 22,000 people petitioned federal regulators to establish stricter standards for kids’ exposure to wireless devices’ radiofrequency radiation.
To find additional resources, advocacy guidance, tip sheets and other useful suggestions, consult the websites of one of these organizations:
View the discussion thread.
Choosing a gift for someone is challenging enough without the added worry of whether the item you’re buying is full of potentially harmful chemicals.
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