According to a recent survey, “pupils in England are at risk of missing out because their schools do not have good enough wi-fi”.
However, do schools really need to use wi-fi, rather than cables?
Voice is concerned about wi-fi in schools.
In the last few years there has been a great weight of evidence from around the world which suggests that exposure to electromagnetic radiation can have long-term health impacts, particularly on children, and that exposing young children (from birth to 12) to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) can produce changes in cell formation, genetic changes, and potential cancers.
Exposure levels are only half the story; length of exposure is crucial too. Long exposures at lower intensity levels may be as damaging as high exposure levels for short periods hence our concern about wireless networks in schools and nurseries.
It is a considerable concern that in schools we are installing wi-fi systems and we have no clear evidence that they are safe. Our concern is that until they are declared to be safe and proven to be safe we should not be installing them in schools.
The difficulty is that once installed in schools, they are switched on constantly. Whether the children are using them or not, they are exposed to that level of radiation.
Voice has advocated that new wi-fi systems should not be installed in schools, that existing systems should be turned off when not required and that schools should consider whether they really need to use wi-fi, which was developed to facilitate Internet access on the move rather than to be used as a convenient alternative to cables in dedicated IT facilities.
With such strong opinions on both sides of the argument, serious and sustained scientific research is needed to establish conclusive facts about the potential long-term effects on children, particularly into the potential impact on developing brains.
Are you worried about wi-fi where you work? Do let us know your views.
You can find out more at www.voicetheunion.org.uk/wifi.
Wireless technologies and young people: A resource for schools (Wi-fi in Schools, 2011)
First published 11 May 2010 and updated 21 February 2013