FAQs: Cell Phones & Wireless Devices
Q: Is there a right age at which to give a child a cell phone?
A: We recommend not giving children cell phones. A major U.S. government-funded study recently confirmed cell phone radiation causes brain tumors in animals. The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the radiation from a cell phone as a Group 2B 'Possible Carcinogen'. Over a dozen countries presently warn about risks to children from cell phones and microwave radiation-emitting devices, and several countries also ban advertising to children The official Russian Federation advises persons under 18 to not use mobile phones at all, and that there be courses in school for children advising of the risks. Just recently, on September 2016, the Israel Education Ministry completely prohibited the use of cell phones in the classroom, for health and psychological reasons. If on occasion you do permit a child to use a cell phone, it would best be used for quick check-ins, using a wired headset or speakerphone, and not for games, research or entertainment. Adults and children, alike, would be well-advised to use a hard-wired computer at home for accessing the internet for these purposes and to use mobile devices infrequently, for very brief durations.
Q: My children text a lot and rarely use the phone—is texting OK?
A: Some think texting is safer. This is true because one's head receives significantly less radiofrequency radiation (RF) exposure while texting, however, understands there still is radiation exposure occurring with texting, just to other parts of the body, and over the course of a day these exposures can add up. Note that psychologists also warn texting encourages 'dissociation', where a child can become disconnected from themselves and lose the ability to be fully present in relationships. Serial and heavy texting may have important consequences for children in the formative years so it's important to think of both the physical effects of mobile devices from the radiation as well as their impact on mental health. Minimizing the use of mobile devices in children, whether calls or texting, except for emergencies, and encouraging greater human interactions where true relationships can be formed is the most prudent strategy.
Q: Should I limit my children’s time spent online?
A: The short answer is yes. The nervous system needs variability and constantly staring into a screen certainly doesn't foster that. In fact, the rigidity of constant focus on a computer can make it hard to pull away. (Watch the video of Michael Gilbert here.)
* Note, if parents themselves are addicted to screens it will be almost impossible for many children, so the whole family participating is highly recommended.
Q: We have WiFi at home. Is it difficult to change to a hard-wired internet connection?
A: If you use a 'hybrid' router, which has the option of either using a wireless or wired connection, after you plug the Ethernet cord connected to your computer into one of the ports on the router, you will need to deactivate the wireless functionality, both in your computer's software, as well as in the router itself. This is achieved by contacting the manufacturer, providing the serial number for your router and having the company deactivate the WiFi. Sometimes this can be accomplished online without needing to call. Note that this can be reversed in the same manner if the WiFi is wanted for a special occasion. If you require multiple work stations with internet access in your home, use a splitter for the Ethernet cable, or run additional ethernet cords from the additional ports on the back of the router. Ethernet cable can be concealed if placed near molding and door frames and can be run from one floor to the next with a very small hole in the floor in one corner of the room. It is well worth the effort to hard-wire your home for the sake of your family's health, and it is a one-time effort.
Q: My child is constantly watching video games and isolating—how can I find help?
A: Video games offer a lot of fun and sense of community in online competitive gaming, but playing online games can be highly addictive. Too much time playing video games can render children (as well as adults) alone and feeling lost in a fantasy world, and coping quite poorly in the reality of life. While it is important that parents set hard boundaries on games, also understand fantasy and imagination in children is normal, if used in the context of the play, or if connected internally to oneself through visualization. These should be encouraged. Mindfulness meditation strengthens the parts of the brain being worn down in video gaming. Watch the video with New York psychiatrist and brain science expert Joe Loizzo, MD, Ph.D. He says mindfulness meditation can actually reshape the mind and brain, and manually override tendencies to addiction, and that is "the right tool for the job".
Q: Are baby monitors a problem?
A: The newer baby monitors emit microwave radiation and should never be used near an infant. Look for an older analog monitor online or in thrift shops. Similarly, pajamas with sensors to monitor the infant should be avoided if the sensors use radio-frequency radiation (RF) versus infrared, as should any RF-emitting toys.
Q: Smartwatches are the new rage among teenagers. Are they safe?
A: The levels of radiation smartwatches emit can be quite high and comparable to a cell phone, so most certainly one does not want a smartwatch on their body, particularly throughout the course of a day. Be wise - avoid the 'wearable wireless' category. Period. You will be glad you did.
Q: My children are concerned they may be addicted to their cellphones and tablets - what can I do to help?
A: Indeed, CNN online recently reported that over 50% of U.S. teens feel they are addicted to their smart phone. Tech addiction should be addressed at the earliest opportunity. I recommend you help them pull away from the technology daily, and toward human relationships and outdoor activities, and also seek the guidance and support of a professional. Realize that the radiation emitted by these devices generates endorphins, one of the reasons for the addiction that is little appreciated, which is all the more reason, if spending long periods on the internet, to do so on hard-wired connections.
Q: At school in the commercial-grade WiFi, my child has difficulty concentrating and becomes fatigued and irritable - how can I educate his school on this?
A: Keep up on this subject and what parents and schools are doing across the country and the world to address WiFi in schools at Facebook group, Campaign for Radiation Free Schools. In some cases, WiFi is being pulled out of schools, in others parents are choosing to home school, and tech-free schools are being started. Some are switching children to Rudolf Steiner schools, many of which limit technology on philosophical grounds in the younger years and are becoming EMF savvy. The first legal case against a private school is in Massachusetts, where parents for a 12-year old boy are suing for accommodation under the American With Disabilities Act. Already, a teacher who is sensitive to the radiation has been granted accommodation in Los Angeles. This situation is unfolding. Join Campaign for Radiation Free Schools and ask for help. There is a vast repository of compelling documents and videos posted there with which to educate parents, teachers and schools, including a detailed critique of the National Association of Independent School's misleading statement on WiFi, a great place to start. To learn more, click here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/110896245588878/
Q: There is a bank of smart meters on the other side of our baby's room - should I be concerned?
A: If there is a radiating smart meter on the other side of the wall from human living environments, bedroom or otherwise, this is a significant risk. A bank of smart meters can be a truly extraordinary risk. The first step is to measure the exposures and make sure the new meters are emitting radiation and are not the old analog meters, which were hard-wired and did not present this risk. We suggest you consult a building biologist for a professional assessment. A list of credentialed assessors is posted at the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology on www.hbelc.org
Q: Any suggestions for dining table cell phone etiquette?
A: Some families insist electronics not be brought to the table. Someplace a box in the center of the table where each person must place their phone in the OFF mode. And other families have drawn a line and simply do not allow children to use these devices unless in an emergency. We suggest you think it through and develop an electronics policy for your family based on your values.
Q: What books teach the fundamentals of these risks?
A: Please refer to the Recommended Reading Page.
Q: If my wireless router is in a room frequently inhabited by myself or my children, or in a bedroom, should I relocate it?
A: Wireless routers and children are not a good mix. We have seen many children dealing with physical and emotional difficulties and sleeping difficulties greatly improve when the home was hard-wired. That being said, if you have a very large house, and place the router far from where humans frequently spend time, that is better than having the power source near people. This is hard to accomplish in a small apartment. Understand though, that while there exists an expected linear relationship between the power and the biological effects, i.e. where the greater the power the worse the effects, know also there have been paradoxical effects found in scientific studies, where the lower the power, the worse certain effects, such as neuron death in the brain and increased blood-brain barrier permeability. So, the proximity to the router is important but it is not the only form of risk. Frequencies and signal characteristics can also do damage at very low power. These are called 'non-thermal' effects. This is why the best strategy for your family is to hard-wire your internet connection using Ethernet cords, as well as hard-wire all attached computer-related equipment.
Q: What about smart meters and are they safe? Are there ways to cover them to diminish the amount of radiation they emit?
A: Smart meters are not safe at all. The meters on people's houses emit radiofrequency radiation and there are hub locations in neighborhoods where the signals pass on their way to the utility. Many people are getting sick after placing one of these meters on their house but may aren't connecting the dots. When you are able to opt-out of a smart meter and keep your analog meter, do so! Opting out, however, will not protect you from your neighbor's smart meter emissions, nor from the new layer of radiation in your neighborhood so it is an incomplete solution.
If you are unable to opt-out of having a smart meter, the first this you want to do is block the RF coming backwards into your house. A very large, inexpensive piece of sheet metal from Home Depot mounted to the wall inside your house can often do the job by reflecting the RF outward. Or you can purchase a smart meter shielding kit from www.EMFSafetyStore.com. Whichever you choose, grounding the metal material to the ground port in an outlet (place for the 3rd prong) is very important so it does not become a plane for electric fields in your home.
Some people put metal cages over the smart meter on the outside of the house to limit radiation outside, but one should be careful it doesn't become overheated or that it's not pushing more radiation inside. An RF meter is always necessary to see exactly what has been accomplished with any given 'solution and if the approach has increased exposure in other ways. Help from a building biologist is highly recommended. Find an expert at www.hbelc.org.
Smart meters also put high-frequency transients on the wiring in your house, called 'Dirty Electricity'. This too is biologically active and has been linked to cancer. Stetzer or Greenwave filters can be used to shield it, by placing them in outlets or you can purchase whole house filters and install with the help of a building biologist.
To learn more about this topic, including misspent federal underwriting of unnecessary smart meters:
1) read the white paper, "Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid" (www.gettingsmarteraboutthesmartgrid.org)
2) watch the award-winning documentary, "Take Back Your Power" (https://takebackyourpower.net/)
3) watch the videos from The Commonwealth Club of California, the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/video-the-high-road-to-a-true-smart-grid/.
Q: What can I do or what devices work to cut the amount of radiation from EMF devices?
A: There are 4 primary risks to consider from exposure to cell phones: the power, frequency/signal characteristics, magnetic fields from the battery, duration of exposure. Duration of exposure is the one thing we can control for ourselves and our families.
1. Put your phone in airplane mode.
2. Use a shielded cell phone case, which blocks/limits RF radiation to an extent. These cases can be found at www.emfsafetystore.com.
3. Use stickers containing reflecting material which can be stuck on the inside of pockets and work by reflecting radiation away from your body.
4. Make your own case! Get at least 2 layers of 2-way stretch reflecting material from the EMF Safety Store and cover with the fabric of your choice. Completely cover the phone.
5. Get a Pong case for the iPhone, iPad and other devices. This case appears to direct some of the phone's radiation outward from a person's head, significantly reducing exposure. Keep in mind this is still not as effective as using the speakerphone or a wired headset. Realize this will not be as protective as using a
New models of our devices come out frequently so keep in mind the shielding materials you have today, may not work tomorrow. Also none of these materials shield from the magnetic fields from the battery, which are present and greater when on speakerphone and when charging, so keep the device away from you when charging, preferably in another room.
Be cautious about subtle energy product that claims to support one's physiology when in the presence of RF. There is little to no published research substantiating the claims.
RF Meters, while not designed for the mass-market, are increasingly becoming a necessity, as the only way to truly know one’s exposure, even when using a protective case. The 8Ghz RF Meter at www.EMFSafetystore.com is a great option for measuring routers, phones, portable phones, wireless printers, etc. Another option is Acousticom 2 RF Meter, which is essentially an RF alarm that sounds and lights up when RFs are detected.
*If you have any questions for Camilla Rees, our expert EMF resource, please email us at [email protected]