By applying the Precautionary Principle, France is taking the lead in taking Legislative Measures to protect children from the effects of non-ionizing radiation on mobile phones, Wi-Fi, mobile internet and from other sources. In 2015 Wi-Fi was banned in kindergartens and other locations for three year olds, and additional restrictive measures were taken for elementary schools.
From September 2018 the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices (electronic tablet or smart watch, for example) is banned in all primary and lower secondary schools. This ban applies during school hours including breaks and lunch breaks and also during before-and after-school care or extracurricular activities. It is also effective during all school outings occurring away from the school under school supervision. Exceptions within the law concerns students with disabilities or incapacitating health problems will be able to use medical equipment associated with communication devices (for example, blood-sugar monitoring devices diabetic children). This law also provides for conditional bans for foreseeable circumstances and also enables the administrative council of upper secondary schools to prohibit the use of these devices based on their own internal regulations.
According to the French Minister of Education, “The use of mobile telephones can seriously impair students’ capacity for listening and concentrating, which are necessary for learning. This use is also the cause of a large portion of the incivilities and disturbances that occur at schools. Mobile phones can be the object of jealousy, extortion or theft between classmates. Furthermore, their use at school diminishes the quality of life of the school community, which is indispensable to the well-being of students. Finally, mobile phones are sometimes vectors of cyber-bullying and can facilitate young people’s access to violent images, and pornography in particular, via the Internet. Now days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that’s a problem. It is especially important for children under the age of seven not to be in front of a telephone screen”.
It is widely accepted and scientifically documented, that the use of mobile and other wireless devices by young children and teenagers can have serious effects on their psychology, behavior, communication between one another and generally on their balanced psychosomatic development. The non-rational and age related use of wireless technology is a serious complicated public health issue. Beyond the above effects and the addiction that follows, of concern are the potentially very serious and well documented impact on children’s health from exposure to radiation emitted by those devices (ref. Council of Europe 2011, ANSES 2016, 2019, Reykjavik Appeal 2018, Nicosia Declaration 2017) (a simulation of the diffusion of radiation from mobile phone throughout child’s brain is shown in the above a photograph taken from the Environmental Health Trust website https://ehtrust.org).
Examples from other countries
In Norway, certain schools have put in place a system for regulating mobile telephones. Students place their telephones in a “phone hotel” in the morning when they arrive at school and get them back as they leave.
In the United Kingdom, students at several upper secondary schools can bring their mobile phones to school as long as they leave them in a locker reserved for this purpose.
In the United States, a number of schools require students to keep their telephones in a Yondr case. This pouch locks automatically upon entry into an area where mobile phones are forbidden.
There is an immediate need: a) to avoid use of telephones and other wireless communication devices at school and to avoid or at least minimize the use at home according to the child’s age, b) to involve pupils outside the classrooms during the break, away from screens, in order for them to develop effective communication and interaction skills, and to reduce cyber-bullying, and c) to train them especially teenagers on rational use of technology.
It is an urgent necessity, in our country Cyprus, as well, for parents, teachers and the society to become informed and aware of the above mentioned significantly serious effects and to orientate towards the rational use of technology, always according to their age, and to seek to avoid the exposure of children to radiation, for example by using wired internet connection and through other simple measures. Competent Authorities should promote Legislative and other measures in schools. A first critical step was made by the Ministry of Education and Culture in January 2017 with a circular banning Wi-Fi in public Kindergartens and restricting its use at public primary schools. The measure should be extended to the private sector, and to gymnasium as well.
The Nicosia Declaration of 2017, in line with the international public health community, reflects the scientific documented anxiety of Cypriot and Austrian doctors as well as the National Committee on Environment and Children’s Health for the implementation of immediate precautionary measures. The 16 practical rules of the Declaration (given below) are a tool that can be used by everyone.
More material (videos and guides) as well as scientific information on our website: www.paidi.com.cy
- ANSES, 2016. “Exposition aux radiofréquences et santé des enfants.”
- ANSES 2019, opinion of the French Agency for food Environmental and Health Safety on the “Health effects associated with exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields”.anses.fr ANSES/PR1/9/01-06 [version e] code Ennov: ANSES/FGE/0037
- French Law 2015 Proposition de Loi relative à la sobriété, à la transparence, à l’information et à la concertation en matière d’exposition aux ondes électromagnétiques, 29 janvier 2015.
- French Law 2018 https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?idArticle=LEGIARTI000037286581&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006071191&dateTexte=20191110
- Summary of the Law taken from the Official website of the Ministry of Education of France, Banning the use of cellphones in primary and lower secondary schools
Key policies – Jean-Michel Blanquer
- Nicosia Declaration 2017
- Pall M. “Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health” Environmental Research 164 (2018) 405–416.
- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Resolution 1815 (2011). The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment.
- Reykjavik Appeal on Wireless Technology in Schools Feb 2017 | ES, https://es-ireland.com/…/feb-2017-reykjavik-appeal-on-wireless-technology-in-school…https://www.wirelesseducation.org/reykjavik-appeal-no-wi-fi-schools
- Wilke I. Biological and pathological effects of 2.45 GHz radiation on cells, fertility, brain, and behavior. umwelt • medizin • gesellschaft 2018; 31 (1) Suppl: 1-
NICOSIA DECLARATION ON ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS/RADIOFREQUENCIES
The 16 Practical Rules
Practical rules are proposed, based on the existing rules published annually by the Medical Chamber of Vienna/Austria, the rules published by the Cyprus Committee on Environment and Children’s Health and the recent Reykjavik appeal 2017.
- Children and teenagers under the age of 16 should carry mobile phones for emergencies only!
- Mobile phones, tablets, laptops are not toys or a means for entertainment for children. They can be used by children only as simple devices, i.e. on flight mode and with Wi-Fi, bluetooth and mobile data turned off. Games, songs etc., should be downloaded and saved in advance by parents. However, their use must still be limited and proportionate to the age of the child. Minimum use for children at preschool age, and no use at all for infants and children below 2 years of age.
- In general, keep calls short and as few as possible. Use a landline or write an SMS.
4. “Distance is your friend”. Keep the phone away from your body and head during dialling and maintain at least the minimum distance recommended in the user guide. Take advantage of the built-in speakerphone or use a headset!
5. Do not keep the phone directly on your body when using a headset or the built-in speakerphone. Pregnant women should be especially cautious. In men, mobile phones pose a risk to their fertility when carried in the pant pocket. Persons with electronic implants (pacemaker, insulin pump, etc.) must pay particular attention to distance. If no other option is available, use the outer coat pocket, a backpack or a purse/handbag to carry the phone!
6. Do not use mobiles or smartphones in vehicles (car, bus, train). Without an external antenna, the radiation inside the vehicle is higher. In addition, the user is distracted and becomes a nuisance to others on public transport!
7. No texting while driving – ever! The distraction causes you to become a danger to yourself and a danger to other road users!
8. Make phone calls at home and at work via a hardwired network.
9. Work offline more often or put your phone in airplane mode. For functions such as listening to music, camera, alarm clock, calculator or offline games, you do not always need an Internet connection!
10. Fewer apps means less radiation. Minimize the number of apps and disable the most unnecessary background services on your smartphone. Disabling “mobile services”/“data network mode”/Wi-Fi turns the smartphone into a conventional mobile phone. You can still be reached, but you avoid a lot of unnecessary radiation from background data traffic! Teenagers in particular need to be cautious.
11. Avoid making calls in places with poor reception (basement, elevator and the like). In such instances, a mobile phone increases its transmission power. When there is poor reception, use a headset or the speakerphone instead!
12. Buy mobile phones with a very low SAR value and an external antenna connector, if possible!
13. Internet access via a hardwired connection such as LAN (e.g. via ADSL, VDSL, fiber optics) does not emit radiation: it is fast and secure. Constantly radiating DECT cordless phones, Wi-Fi access points, data sticks and LTE modems should be avoided! This should be especially avoided in home and schools. Wi-Fi routers cause passive exposure to non-users. A distance of at least 4m up to 10m should be kept from places where children are playing, staying or sleeping. Wi-Fi should always be kept: switched off when not in use especially at night or when pregnant woman and children are nearby.
14. Chatting and phone calls over wired internet is recommended.
15. Protect pregnant women and children from “passive exposure”, by keeping a distance of at least 1 meter while on the mobile phone. When using wireless internet (Wi-Fi or mobile data), the distance kept should be as far as possible. Devices such as mobile phones, laptops or tablets with wireless connection must be kept away from a pregnant woman’s belly or from a woman holding a child in her arms. Under no circumstance should a pregnant woman or a child sit near a router or in between a router and their computer. In general, when parents hold their children in their arms or are close to them, they should not use or hold their mobile phones or work with wireless devices and they should not place the mobile phone on or close to the child’s stroller. The risk is higher if the mobile device connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or mobile data.
16. Beware of wireless digital baby monitors because of potential risks of irreversible damage to the infant’s brain development. Analogue-type or wired devices are the safest. Digital devices should at least be without video capacity and be “voice activated” (non-continuous transmission). In any case, any device should not be placed in the child’s cot, but at a distance of at least 2 meters!
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