Amid growing evidence worldwide about the health impacts of microwave radiation on children and young people, surely schools should take a precautionary approach and limit Wi-Fi exposure?
Other countries including France and Israel have already done so, while Germany and the US have issued warnings.
Below are seven reasons why we should be limiting school Wi-Fi :
1. A school's Wi-Fi signal is often much stronger than home Wi-Fi, due to multiple routers in classrooms and elsewhere in the building enabling coverage over greater distances, such as the school hall and playground. This exposes the children and the staff to higher levels of microwave radiation than you would typically find in the home.
2. The length of time children are exposed to microwave radiation from Wi-Fi in the classroom is typically 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week including playtimes, a total of 32.5 hours a week, as the Wi-Fi tends to be on all the time in school regardless of whether it is in use. Children in breakfast and after-school clubs are exposed for even longer periods. At home, you have a choice and can turn it off or limit your child's exposure.
3. The Wi-Fi router may be very close to where your child sits. In a classroom with Wi-Fi, children can be sitting as little as one metre from the router. The signal strength reduces with distance so those at the other end of the room will be less exposed, although still affected due to the overall strength of the signal.
4. Many school wireless systems are managed 'remotely' by the school IT provider. Even the head teacher may have no over-ride to turn off the Wi-Fi unless they specifically request timed switch-offs - this means school Wi-Fi may be out of parental and staff control.
5. Security may be compromised. Wireless systems are notoriously easy to hack - this should be a concern to staff and parents, given that sensitive and confidential data about children is potentially open to abuse.
6. The use of laptops and tablets in the classroom is meant to bring educational benefits. Yet medical and scientific research is showing a link between exposure to microwave radiation and brain damage, leading to cognitive impairment, memory loss and concentration problems. The 2012 Bioinitiave Report, which reviewed more than 5,000 independent peer-reviewed studies, concludes that there is a link between exposure to Wi-Fi and mobile phones and the rise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It states that "Children with existing neurological problems that include cognitive, learning, attention, memory, or behavioral problems should as much as possible be provided with wired (not wireless) learning, living and sleeping environments."
This must be balanced against any perceived benefits and convenience arising from portable internet access (Wi-Fi).
7. Finally, what's wrong with wired? Ethernet or wired systems are often already in place, while cheap wired computers are available at a fraction of the cost of ipads and Android tablets. They are also more secure. Children can access the internet and use software equally well on wired computers.
Common symptoms include physical (headaches, skin rashes and irritations, pain in the chest, pelvis, limbs and joints, nausea and fatigue), behavioural (irritability and tearfulness) and cognitive (poor concentration and short term memory loss). Heavy nosebleeds have also been reported.
For a full list of ES symptoms, click here.
More information is available from national campaign group Wi-Fi in Schools. See also Safe School 2012 report by doctors' associations from Austria, Ireland, Switzerland and the United States, alongside international scientists, which calls for wired-only school environments to protect children's health and maximise learning and achievement.