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Monday, April 18, 2016

'Ban WiFi' Movement Gains Steam

There’s been plenty of discussion about the potential of distractions caused by Wi-Fi usage in the classroom. Now, some are worried, and even going to court, over the possibility of health issues caused by its use.

A lawsuit in England alleged that electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS), a condition in which electromagnetic radiation emitted from wireless technology is alleged to cause a variety of symptoms, caused the suicide of a 15-year-old who suffered from severe allergies supposedly made worse by the radiation. In France, cellphones are banned from nursery schools and day-care facilities because it’s feared the devices will cause cancer, while a French court awarded a 39-year-old woman disability payments for her struggles with electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

The movement is gaining momentum in the United States. The Facebook group Parents Against Wi-Fi in Schools has around 2,300 likes and the city of Berkeley, CA, passed an ordinance in 2015 that mandates cellphone shops post notices about exposure to radio frequency radiation. The parents of a 12-year-old boy sued a private school in Southborough, MA, claiming the strength of the school’s Wi-Fi signal caused his illness.

The problem is, EHS isn’t recognized as a medical condition and it’s never been demonstrated that cellphone radiation causes any health risk. Addressing the concerns with transparent policies about Internet usage is one solution. Making it possible for students to opt out of in-school Wi-Fi is another, according to a report in Education Dive.

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