How concerned should we be about having wireless internet connections in our schools? A private school in Ontario is taking no chances.
Last year, I wrote a blog post that looked at whether Wi-Fi should be outlawed in schools. Many people are concerned that the use of wireless equipment in schools is making children sick. Parents and students have reported health issues that they strongly believe are associated to Wi-Fi in schools; some symptoms are mild, others more alarming and some just plain odd:
- Severe headaches
- Memory loss
- Loss of vision
- Loss of feeling in hands
- Heart palpitations
- Eyebrows turning white
Note that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as “Possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Other agents found in this group (2B) include engine exhaust, lead, coffee and pickled vegetables.
To quote myself from the post I linked to above, “How concerned should you be about the health risks? Are they real or imagined? Should you send your kids to school in a tinfoil hat or maybe even switch them to a school that doesn’t use wireless internet connections? Or is it all rubbish?”
Whatever you may believe, one school in Ontario is taking no chances. Pretty River Academy in Collingwood, Ontario has ripped out their Wi-Fi, replacing it with hard-wired internet connections. In a press release, the principal, Roberta Murray-Hirst, is quoted as saying, “This system turns regular electrical outlets into high-speed internet ports. It’s faster than wireless, and we have no question regarding safety.”
We sent an email to Roberta last week with some questions we had:
1. To what extent was your decision based on health concerns?
2. What research did you use in coming to your decision?
3. To what extent was this decision influenced by parental pressure?
4. What was the cost to retrofit your school with the hard-wired connections?
5. According to the press release, the hard-wired connections work through existing electrical outlets. How does this impact a classroom’s ability to have all computers connected to the Internet simultaneously or is this even a scenario that is relevant to how you use the Internet in class?
6. Did you record an increase of health complaints from students after you had installed your Wi-Fi equipment, and if so, what did those complaints consist of?
Unfortunately, we haven’t heard back from her.
Although no reliable scientific studies have conclusively shown a direct link between Wi-Fi and adverse health effects, a Canadian organization called Safe School Committee believes kids should have access to technology in school, but also believes that Wi-Fi internet connections are a health hazard to children. The organization pushes to have all schools hard-wired, stating that, “Microwave exposure is linked to infertility, erratic heart rates, learning impairment, behavioural changes, leukemia and cancer, especially in children.” The Safe School Committee website offers an abundance of information that’s worth checking out and also encourages you to report any changes you’ve seen in your children’s health since having Wi-Fi installed in their school.
What do you think, Sync readers? Should schools be tearing out their Wi-Fi or is this no more of a health concern than a child eating a pickle? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!