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Is Wi-Fi in Your Child’s School? A Parent’s Guide to Taking Control

This post is by guest writer Andrea Fabry of It Takes Time.

Nearly half of all elementary schoolers, even more middle schoolers, and 71 percent of all high schoolers have wireless access at school. These numbers are sure to be outdated soon, as more and more school districts add Wi-Fi and eliminate wired connections. Is your child’s school one of them?

wi fi Making Your Children Sick

Note from Katie: My daughter is starting her third year of school as the first class to have iPads in the classrooms. Yes, every student – that’s a LOT of Wi-Fi winging around the room. This is a topic I’ve been concerned about yet haven’t delved into the research. I asked my colleague Andrea to share her wisdom with us all today.

What is Wi-Fi?

 Wi-Fi is a local area wireless computer technology that allows devices to network using the 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz bands. This Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is available via computers, smartphones, digital cameras, and tablets.

First-generation Wi-Fi hit the market in 1997. We are now in the fifth generation, with far more antennas, modulation technology, and data compatibility. But is there a cost to our progress?

Is Wi-Fi Safe in a School Environment?

Wi-Fi was introduced into schools with little attention given to the health impact on students or teachers. This lack of concern is based on the assumption that unless body tissue is heated during exposure, this type of radiation is safe.

However, the non-thermal biological effects of wireless radiation are well documented:

  • The BioInitiative Report of 2012 lists more than 1,800 studies implicating non-ionizing radiation exposures in a variety of health concerns. (Learn more about this groundbreaking document here.)
  • The World Health Organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) in 2011. According to Dr. Darius Leszynski, a member of the expert panel of the WHO’s EMF Working Group,
“This classification justifies the implementation of the Precautionary Principle…confirms the existence of non-thermal effects that can cause health risk and indicates that current safety standards are insufficient to protect health of the users.”
  • Karl Maret, M.D., M. Eng. is president of Dove Health Alliance, a non-profit foundation in Aptos, CA. As an electrical engineer and medical doctor, he is uniquely qualified to speak to the hazards of wireless technology in schools. Dr. Maret recently spoke at the Expert Forum on Cell Phone and Wireless Risks at the Commonwealth Club of California. This 10-minute presentation highlights his unique study of cumulative exposures at school.
  • Martha Herbert is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, as well as a Pediatric Neurologist. Her research suggests a profound connection between wireless radiation and neurological issues:
“Given how much we have already learned about the subtle biological, cellular and electrical impacts of EMF/RFR, we need to update our out-of-date regulations to take into account of how exquisitely vulnerable we now know we are. And we need to aim for safer ways of meeting our needs for communication and other devices that generate EMF/RFR. Just because EMR/RFR is invisible doesn’t mean it’s harmless.”
Is Wi-Fi Making Your Child Sick? Symptoms of EMF Exposure

The Hidden Nature of Wi-Fi

Since we can’t see, taste, or touch the impact of these technologies, it’s very difficult to believe Wi-Fi is dangerous—especially when we are assured it is safe.

The best way to “see” these frequencies is to use a meter. I own the Cornet Electrosmog meter, which is an affordable option for those seeking to learn more about their electrical environment.

I recently took the meter to an open house at my son’s high school, where he attends part-time. This video shows the difference between the Wi-Fi environment of the school and my son’s wired environment at home.

Cliff’s Notes

At the school, the numbers spiked as high as 100 for a fraction of a second, but they seemed to average around 2.0 most of the time. The home environment flipped between 0.005 and 0.0007.

What Can Parents Do?

If you are a concerned parent but unsure how to cope, consider these four suggestions for becoming proactive when it comes to Wi-Fi in schools.

1. Become aware of symptoms.

Monitor your child’s health. Does your child come home with a headache? Is he or she more fatigued? According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of sensitivity to electromagnetic fields include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • eye pressure
  • stress
  • sleep disturbances
  • skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations, and rashes
  • pain and ache in muscles
  • heart palpitations
  • digestive disturbances
  • dizziness
  • nosebleeds

Note that your child does not have to be hypersensitive to manifest a response to Wi-Fi. If you notice any of these symptoms, begin to watch their responses to devices in general. Observe any reduction of symptoms when they are away from school.

2. Express concern to the administration.

Inform the principal or school board of the hazards associated with wireless technology. Distribute flyers. Make specific requests such as turning off the Wi-Fi during after-school events or offering electrosensitive students a Wi-Fi-free room or the use of wired devices.

There are many parents blazing this trail. Cecelia Doucette, former Ashland, MA, school district employee and mother of two, helped establish the Ashland Public Schools “Best Practices” for wireless devices in classrooms—a first in our country. See Parents for Safe Technology for an updated list of schools that have taken action.

An excellent flyer has been created by Citizens for Safe Technology (CST), and the Environmental Health Trust offers the document Best Practices with Wireless Radiation for Schools, including images and research demonstrating the increased impact of cell phones and wireless on children’s brains vs. adults and what laws have been passed to address the issue in other countries and parts of the U.S.

Is Wi-Fi Making Your Child Sick? Symptoms of EMF Exposure

3. Consider alternative education options.

Our school district offers an online program for middle school and high school. Since all of our area schools utilize Wi-Fi, we have elected to enroll our three high schoolers in the online program, where we can keep them in a wired environment. They each take one or two classes to keep them socially active and engaged.

Many parents are choosing to homeschool exclusively because of this issue. As the health effects become more widely known, many parents will need to think outside the box when it comes to their child’s education.

EMF Action Plan

Robyn over at Green Smoothie Girl has prepared an EMF Action Plan with 10 tips to decrease your family’s EMF exposure. She shares how to measure the EMF in your home, and then stop it from impacting your family’s health, mood, and focus.

Employing these tips will literally “recharge your battery!” and protect your children’s sensitive, developing brains.

Grab your free EMF Action Plan, and check off all the “easy, free, and really expensive” items in a day or two.

4. Make your home a safe environment—especially when sleeping.

This is something every parent can do. If you are overwhelmed with your child’s school environment, focus on the home. I have detailed our journey in the post From Wireless to Wired – Our Family’s Journey. The simple step of turning your router off at night can help give your child (and you!) a much-needed break from the everyday wireless exposures.

For more suggestions on ways to take action at home, especially in the sleeping areas, see Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices, which outlines 15 suggestions for creating a sleep sanctuary.

Our children are part of a giant global experiment. As parents, we don’t have to apologize for questioning the health implications of wireless technology. Whether it’s expressing your concern to school board member, or turning off your router at night, every action counts.

Does Wi-Fi concern you, especially around your children? What actions have you taken?

Further reading:

Andrea Avatar small Andrea is a former journalist, mother of nine, and Certified Building Biology Practitioner. She is the founder of momsAWARE, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about environmental health issues. Andrea and her husband Chris reside in Vail, Arizona with five of their children. Andrea blogs at It Takes Time and is the owner of Just So Natural Products.
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

14 thoughts on “Is Wi-Fi in Your Child’s School? A Parent’s Guide to Taking Control”

  1. Stephanie Anne

    I’m so glad your shared this with us! We have wifi in our home and I always wondered if it could be having an effect on some behavioral issues. I will definitely be reading more about this in the days to come.

    I purchased a FitBit awhile back thinking it would be a great tool to help track fitness goals. I wore it for two days and my arm went completely numb from the elbow down. I had a sharp pain in my wrist and couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I contacted the company and sure enough, people who are sensitive to EMFs will have reactions like that. I never even knew something like that existed.

    It has given me greater cause to really do some research. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Oh, also, since moving, my daughter has had serious tantrum issues that sometimes seem irrational. We’ve struggled with this before (I think blood sugar affects us both pretty strongly, and obviously we’ve just gone through a huge transition), but I’m curious if EMFs can have a behavioral effect as well as the symptoms listed.

    1. Yes, irrational and strong irritability/anger is one of the known (possible) symptoms of electrohypersensitivity (EHS). But there might also be many other reasons for tantrums, so I can’t say or know that it is the reason why your child is having tantrums and of course I don’t know at all whether she is electrohypersensitive or not (having tantrums is, after all, quite normal for children at certain ages – and maybe she is reacting to moving, which might be stressful in itself). I guess you would have to travel to some place with no WiFi and no Smart meters etc… (like a cabin in the mountains or in the forest) for some days or weeks with your child to see if she calms down if you want to know for sure. Turning off the router at night and actually whenever it is not in use is very sound advice anyway. Getting a cabled internet solution is even better. (They are faster and safer as well.)

      I happen to have read a lot of published studies on the biological effects of this kind of radiation lately, and what I can say is that there are thousands of pair reviewed studies concluding that WiFi and other wireless gadgets and systems are not totally harmless for humans (or animals or even insects), and that we all should try to protect ourselves and our kids as best as we can.

      This is a good web sight if you want more information about what science say about EMF and health (but don’t read it if you have strong anxiety problems about health):

    2. First I would definitely look at other things that could be causing her stresses like starting a new school/new friends/a new living situation and unfamiliaity, you know, the general stressors that could rise on moving for a child!

  3. I’ve been concerned about this even though our kids aren’t in school, because we just moved to NYC and are living in an apartment, so I’m sure wifi is everywhere. I don’t even really see the point in turning off our own router at night, although maybe every little bit could help. I just can’t know if our neighbor’s router is right across the wall from the kids’ beds, for example. I was thinking of getting a Himalayan salt lamp for the bedrooms but haven’t looked into it much – but I’ve heard maybe they can help neutralize the effects? Need to check into that.

  4. For the past two years, I have been working to inform parents and school boards of the health harms from wireless radiation. There is no doubt that children or teachers should not be exposed to wireless radiation; there are thousands of studies that attest to this and it has been known for decades. I know of 4 teachers that have gotten sick from these exposures, 3 of them had to quit their jobs because the schools would not remove the WiFi.

    My experience has been that most parents are in denial or ignoring the science and that the school boards are doing the same thing. The school boards, in particular, do not seem to be appealable to. It doesn’t matter what science you put before them, they are ignoring it.

    If the school boards refuse to remove the wireless radiation, the only answer is to remove your child from this environment. This can be very difficult to do, but it is the only answer and one that I, myself, may be faced with soon.

  5. What a wonderful post!
    Parents for Safe Technology is a great site for more information. Read letters from Doctors here

    Did you know that a federal court suit has been filed because children are getting ill in a school. Read about how the school nurse even noticed more children becoming sick after installation.

  6. Thank you for this article. I’ve collected so many articles & studies on the dangers of Wi-Fi. After much negotiation with my husband, he has agreed to switch-off our Wifi at home. The iPad is now permanently on flight-mode (I also make sure that blue-tooth is off).

    Now, I would like to approach our school. I’ve even looked at moving the kids to a school without Wi-Fi, but, there isn’t one, it seems that every single school here has Wifi. This is so frustrating & scary at the same time! I’ve been procrastinating about making a presentation to our school. I don’t know where to start and what to present to the school, as I have too much information. Lack of confidence is also part of it. Obviously the information presented needs to be to the point & brief. Do you have any suggestion on how I can tackle this? Is there already a presentation put together by someone that I could ‘borrow’ to present to our school? Many thanks.

    1. Zara,
      I am right where you are. There are several groups I would recommend as a resource for you. They include Citizens for Safe Technology which offers this flyer:
      Parents for Safe Technology as well as the Facebook group Campaign for Radiation Free Schools. Thankfully there are many like-minded parents who are approaching school districts.

    2. Zara – I am interested to know if you indeed did make a presentation to the school. I would love to know the outcome. And if not, I would also be interested in helping you create a presentation. I have no experience, but I am a mother with a small child who I want to protect from this over-exposure to WiFi and other frequencies.

  7. Thank you for posting this. I dread this topic because my gut says to be aware of wifi and EMF emissions and reduce as possible. Yet our household has steadily increased our use of wifi and general EMF devices. It seems much of life is being build around wireless technology and instant communication, and it’s so hard to resist when something appears to make life easier. Our school district just distributed Chrome books to all students, K-12. This will be the first year everyone has one. Teachers are communicating with parents via text messaging vs just email. My oldest starts high school and the teachers assume each child has a phone and suggests they take pictures of things instead of notes, so phones are encouraged. I want this technology but at what cost? I appreciate blog posts such as this to make me look at things I avoid questioning.

    1. I feel the same way, Laurel! It’s a constant tug of war…so I take baby steps. My own laptop is wired when I’m home, and tablets and phones go on airplane mode when children use them. My own phone has the wireless off unless I’m actively using it, which is rare especially when I’m home. I do want to discuss with the school – airplane mode wouldn’t be that hard to shoot for, hopefully?
      🙂 Katie

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