Wifi Warning or Scaremongering?
During the week, I received an email from an organisation called IDEA, with a letter attached giving a stark warning about the use of wifi in schools. The email was sent to every primary school principal in Ireland. It was also sent to secondary schools. I have not received permission to reproduce the letter, (and I did not give permission for my email to be used for these purposes, but that’s another day’s work), so I am going to summarise the content of the letter.
The IDEA, which stands for “Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association”, who appear to be a charity, state on their web site that they are “an Irish organisation established by health professionals seeking to promote the right to health and peaceful co-existence worldwide.” The association has a number of stances that they campaign for and against, including fluoridation of water, climate change and GM foods. In this particular letter sent to schools, the IDEA has warned us that WiFi is harmful to health, especially to children. They go on to claim that WiFi is not regulated and there is no evidence that it is safe.
The PDST Technology in Education, formerly the NCTE, has been quick to react releasing an email on the CESI and DICTAT lists to react to the email from IDEA. They stated that they had no prior knowledge of this correspondence, which may have “resulted in confusion among schools in relation to potential risks of using Wi-Fi and wireless networking in schools.”
However, they stated that they have been in contact with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) who deal with this. According to the PDST, “the DECLG sees no reason at this time, based on existing scientific research, why WiFi should not continue to be used in schools.”
With schools so reliant on WiFi, particularly with the rise in tablet computers, it’s difficult to see how practical the IDEA’s suggestion of a completely wired system is. Most people have a wireless device in their pockets all day so I hope we’re not slowly killing ourselves. I presume as time goes on we will find out.