Posted Jun. 11, 2015 at 3:09 PM
FRAMINGHAM – At a forum Wednesday night, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, former president of Microsoft Canada and other experts warned of the dangers of wireless radiation to children.
The panelists told an audience at Plymouth Church that children’s brains absorb more radiation than in adults, and research shows that surrounding kids with technology devices is causing harm.
Dr. Devra Davis, founder of Environmental Health Trust, said children today have toys that radiate energy, from the digital “iPotty” to a plastic teething rattle iPhone case.
But unbeknownst to parents, the World Health Organization lists cell phones as a possible carcinogen to humans, Davis said, in the same category as jet fuel, DDT, lead and engine exhaust.
“Would you give DDT, lead or engine exhaust to your children to play with?” she asked.
As a former industry leader, Frank Clegg, who led Microsoft Canada, said he is amazed by the impact technology has had on lives. But he is now warning of the dangers as CEO of Canadians for Safe Technology.
“If not used properly, I think technology can be harmful,” he said.
Davis and the other speakers urged those in the crowd to take steps to be safer, from putting phones on “airplane mode” when possible to using hardwired Internet connections to following the city of Berkley, California’s lead in adopting right-to-know laws.
“Unlike some environmental problems, like global warming, this is something you can fix tomorrow,” Davis said.
Cities and towns can pass cell phone right-to-know laws that require public postings that tell users of devices how to use them safely, Davis said.
Her organization launched the website, showthefineprint.org, to spread the word.
Author Catherine Steiner-Adair, who lives in Newton, said children today are gazing into a screen 7 to 11 hours a day, more than any other activity in their life, and one out of seven sets of parents allow their infants and toddlers to have screen time for up to four hours a day.
She called it the “Magic of the iPad,” but said those devices are neurological stimulants and society needs to stop denying the ramifications.
Adults may joke they are “so addicted” to their smartphones, yet they give children the same devices and are really psychologically dependent, Steiner-Adair said.
“They function in our lives like little blankies do for children,” she said.
In children, the devices are causing deficits in language development and their capacity for frustration and self-soothing, she said.
The problem is so severe in Asia, she said, that 5-year-olds, so psychologically addicted to devices, are in recovery treatment therapy programs.