|Several studies have shown that children and adolescents|
with an intensive use of mobile phones have an anti-social
or aggressive behavior. (Photo: Keystone/Martin Ruetschi)
by D. Pomper, 20min.ch, 11 March 2014 (translated from German by Jennifer Siddle)
Are mobile phones the cause of school children no longer being able to concentrate and thus becoming anti-social? Swiss researchers want to determine what effect radiation from mobile phones has on them.
To telephone and exchange SMS texts with friends, and in between, check E-mails and Facebook: the latest report is that since teenagers can now profit from flat rate offers, they have become the most intensive mobile phone users.
Since June 2012, 439 pupils from the 7th and 8th grade classes in central Switzerland have taken part in the HERMES study (Health Effects Related to Mobile Phone Use in Adolescents). From this study, it has now been determined that participants call on average approximately 2 minutes with their mobile phone, send 20 short messages and spend approximately 40 minutes per day on line with their mobile phone. The newspaper, “Bildung Schweiz” reports that approximately 20% acknowledge that at least once a week they are woken up in the night by a call on their mobile phone or by a text message.
What does this mean for adolescents? It is presumed that children and adolescents could be particularly sensitive and could react to the radiation from their mobile phones, because their brain is not yet fully developed. On account of their smaller heads, radiation would penetrate into the deeper parts of their brain which is different from adults. Martin Röösli, who is the Study Coordinator at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel said: “We need to determine whether the radiation from mobile phones has a bearing on the health or learning abilities of adolescents.”
Anti-social, aggressive and depressed
Several foreign studies have shown that the behavior of children and adolescents with an intensive use of mobile phones could, in time, become anti-social, aggressive or depressed.
A German study consisting of 1,498 children and 1,524 adolescents showed that with the increasing stress of radiation, more behavioral problems are appearing. Seven per cent of children and 5% of adolescents were showing abnormal behavior.
A further study of 13,000 children in Denmark showed that children aged 7 years had more recurrent behavioral problems if their mothers had frequently used a mobile phone during pregnancy. The connection was even more noticeable if the children themselves had a mobile phone. However, Röösli is skeptical: “It is not clear from these studies whether the radiation from mobile phones is the cause of these behavioral problems or whether adolescents with behavioral problems telephone more frequently.
Should Wi-Fi be banned in schools?
The HERMES data is therefore eagerly awaited because the introduction of Wi-Fi in schools is currently being seriously discussed. For example, the Baselbieter IG’s basic life rules warns of the damaging effects of permanent radiation in classrooms. In case of doubt, the Swiss Teachers’ Association recommends that Wi-Fi in schools should be banned and the aim should be to have fixed lines. President Beat Zemp said: “However, this method is not flexible and nowadays without electronic teaching material, nothing works any more.”
In other European towns, Wi-Fi in schools has already been switched off, the most recent being at the beginning of March, in Citanova Marche, central Italy. The municipal councilor for the public educational system has personally taken down the Wi-Fi router in primary schools and has installed the new cable system. The Parents’ Association of the school concerned had requested the elimination of the Wi-Fi system. Hans U. Jakob, President of the Swiss Interest Community Elektrosmog Gigaherz association, also wants this. “Parents of these particular children have come to us to express their concern that because of Wi-Fi, children are not only nervous, but have also become malicious.” Hypersensitive children ended up at the doctor’s where they were prescribed Ritalin.
However, the HERMES study shows that the stress of the radiation on pupils in school buildings with Wi-Fi in comparison to pupils in school buildings without Wi-Fi is almost identical. The reason: adolescents are only in school for short periods of time during the day. Röösli therefore stated that the additional stress is thus not as great if one considers what the radiation stress would be were one to spend an entire day in school. Therefore, personal stress caused by Wi-Fi is not so important. The largest part comes from mobile phones and from mobile antenna base stations.
Original article in German: