Wi-Fi in schools: good or bad?

Is Wi-Fi hazardous for your kids health? Some schools are plugging back in

Illustration Credit: Lee Hasler

Your son bursts in the door after school, but instead of excitedly telling you about his day, he flops into bed, complaining of a headache and feeling dizzy. Is he tired? Hungry? Stressed? Or maybe it’s the Wi-Fi at his school.

Is Wi-Fi hazardous to your child’s health?

Some parents, like those from the Simcoe County Safe School Committee (safeschool.ca) in Ontario, are blaming wireless coverage in classrooms for causing headaches, dizziness, behavioural changes and racing heart rates in their children. The symptoms seem to show up during the school week, but disappear on weekends. The parents say more research is necessary to determine if long-term exposure to the radiation emitted from the relatively new technology is safe.

They’re not alone. Some health experts and organizations, including the European Environmental Protection Agency, maintain that wireless technology is harmful to everyone, but especially children. “Exposing kids all day to Wi-Fi in school is really an experiment with unknown consequences,” says Victoria-based health researcher Kerry Crofton, who spent four years reviewing radio frequency science for her book Wireless Radiation Rescue: Safeguarding Your Family from the Risks of Electro-pollution. “Sure we love the convenience of technology, but is it worth taking even a small chance when it comes to our children’s health?” Younger kids are particularly vulnerable to the radiation in our increasingly wireless world, says Crofton. They absorb more radiation than older kids or adults because they have thinner skulls and their brains and nervous systems are still developing.
School boards are in favour of staying wireless

Most school boards, however, have no issue with Wi-Fi in the classroom because Health Canada and the World Health Organization assure them it’s safe. As long as the levels of radio frequency energy emitted from Wi-Fi equipment are below the established safety limits, the kids are all right, says Health Canada. But Crofton and other experts say the government standards we assume are protecting us are thousands of times too lenient, and that there are biological effects from these so-called “safe” levels, including sleep disruption, immune suppression and an increased risk of brain cancer and neurological disorders.

Some parents are taking precautions

As the debate continues, parents are taking precautions. Andrew Couper of Meaford, Ont., pulled his two daughters, ages eight and 10, out of their wireless classrooms last September to be home-schooled. The former school council member at St. Vincent Euphrasia Elementary says that 88 percent of parents at the school voted to turn off the Wi-Fi, but it’s still running. “There’s just so much information out there about the harm this might be causing,” he says. “I have perfectly healthy kids and I want to keep them that way.”

Kristin Cassie, principal of Roots & Wings Montessori Place in Surrey, BC, has removed all wireless technology from her school and replaced it with the hard-wired connections that were already in place. “We have advanced technology without any of the dangers of wireless radiation,” she says. It’s the new way to go old school.

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