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Children, screen time and health mandates
Malta Created: 4 Apr 2022
A number of studies show technology having negative effects on children’s health.

In her report called ‘The Impact on Mental Health of Children and Young People During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic’, published in July 2021, Sarah Foster, a UK-based play and creative art therapist, noted that children and young people have had increased exposure to non-ionising radiation as a result of health mandates.

Chris Rowan, a paediatric occupational therapist and biologist, explains: “It’s important to come together as parents, teachers and therapists to help society ‘wake up’ and see the devastating effects technology is having not only on our child’s physical, psychological and behavioural health but also on their ability to learn and sustain personal and family relationships.”

Rowan very effectively and diagrammatically portrays the negative impacts of the accelerating intensity and increased duration of screen time through tablet, smartphone and internet use; what he calls virtual futures. These are physically, emotionally and mentally unhealthy lifestyles that are more likely than not to end in failed lives or preventable illness.

On the other hand, Rowan also displays a chart of the proven positive impact of a lifestyle that is not electronically mediated. One based on awareness of internal and external stimuli and emotional bonding experienced when physically with other people and in the natural world. Such a lifestyle contributes to improved strength, coordination, security, body functions, serenity, calm and focus. These are excellent predispositions for optimal development, attentive awareness and learning, ultimately giving us the best chance of having a fulfilling and rewarding life.

It is also known that exposure to wireless technology such as radio frequencies (RFR), microwave radiation (MWR) and electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) may cause harm. Exposure arises from Wi-Fi routers at homes, schools, hospitals, hotspots and the workplace.

This radiation also arises from 3G and 4G masts emitting internet and mobile data, present everywhere.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation issued a press release on May 31, 2011 in which it classifies radio frequency electromagnetic (non-ionising) radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans under a 2B classification.

The latter classification is within the second out of four categories that range from “the agent is carcinogenic to humans” to “probably not carcinogenic to humans”. Carcinogenicity is the propensity for an agent, such as RF radiation, to develop cancer in people. This was the conclusion of the IARC Working Group after considering hundreds of scientific articles.

The IARC Working Group did not quantify the risk, however, one IARC reviewed study, of cell phone use since 2004, showed a 40 per cent increased risk for gliomas, a brain cancer, for high category users – 30 minutes exposure per day for 10 years. Jonathan Samet, chairperson of the IARC Working Group indicated that “the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk and, therefore, we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk”.

“Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,” said IARC director Christopher Wild, “it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices or texting”. This was in 2011.

In spite of its justified concern in 2011, the IARC has not, to my knowledge, in the past 10 years reconsidered its 2B classification for radio frequency electromagnetic radiation as a possible carcinogen, notwithstanding its commitment “to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk”.

The IARC appears to have ignored both the numerous more recent studies and the increase, by many magnitudes, of the radiation that people are today exposed to.

Tom Butler, a professor and former satellite and microwave communications engineer and IT professional, in his 2019 paper confirms his view that microwaves are strong enough to cause biological damage and that the danger they present goes well beyond their thermal (heat) effects that is the industry adopted limit.

A March 2021 report issued by the Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association (ORSAA) has identified 2,065 studies that investigate the effects of RFR and EMF radiation exposure that does not exceed the industry heat-based standard limits. Sixty-nine per cent of these studies show that there is a biological effect on humans, 22 per cent show no effect and nine per cent show uncertain conclusions. The studies were also analysed by source of funding.

Interestingly there is a strong bias in the industry-funded studies towards ‘no effect’ conclusions.

The Environmental Health Trust warns that there are no studies showing that it is safe for children to be exposed to RF-MW-EMF radiation and no studies to show that continuous exposure from smartphones, phone masts, antennas, radio/TV towers, radar, cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers and baby monitors is safe. The EH Trust also points out that, biologically, children are not small adults. Children, due to their rapidly developing body, are more vulnerable to the biological effects of RF-MW-EMF radiation exposure than adults. A 2008 study reported that “the brain tissue of children absorbed about two times more MW radiation than adults’ tissue”.

The health authorities need to be much more aware of the harm caused by non-ionising RF-MW-EMF radiation. We are not asking the digital industry to shut down. We are asking them to hardwire connectivity and make their products and services safe. Health must come before profit.
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Source: Times of Malta, David Marinelli, 25 Mar 2022

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