Making iPods and iPads Safer For Children

I have 3 kids aged 5 to 11 and yes, like all their peers, they want the latest gadget as soon as it comes out. Unfortunately, all of these devices carry health consequences due to the microwave RF radiation they emit. The World Health Organization has now classed WiFi radiation as a Class 2B carcinogen. Switzerland has removed WiFi from it’s elementary schools and SwissCom offers free fiber optic internet to schools (faster, secure data and no WiFi!).

Yet I’m supposed to give my kids WiFi devices to play with to irradiate their brains, developing immune systems and undeveloped reproductive organs?

I don’t think so.

And yet… in case you haven’t noticed, our entire world has embraced these devices and they are now an important part of kids’ playtime and social network. Once they hit grade 6 or 7, they stand around texting, as much – if not more – than they talk to each other.

As a parent, how do you walk the thin line between allowing/enabling them to degrade their health. Yet not cause them to be ostracized by their peers since every other kid is doing that very thing? If all the kids in class were smoking (another recognized carcinogen) would I hand my kids a pack of cigarettes every morning so they could join in and not feel left out? If the school provided GMO lunches every day, would I hand my daughter money so she could have Bt toxin floating around her bloodstream and genetically modified RNA manipulating her gene expression?

And yet… As my husband says, “The more you fight it, the more you’ll drive them towards it. They’re going to do what they want when they’re away from you anyway.”

Yes, and that’s why people fought so hard to get cigarettes recognized as a public health hazard and restrict advertising and sales to children. And it took 40 years. Because with all of these types of things, you have huge corporate profits at stake; industry does not want to lose sales and governments do not want to lose payola.

So what do we do in the meantime?

As long as your child is compliant, here’s how you can give them these fun, exciting gadgets like an iPod Touch or an iPad, yet make it safer for them:

1. Disable ALL the WiFi components on the device (iPad, iPhone, iPod). It is not just the WiFi network that uses microwave radiation, the Bluetooth, Location Services, GPS and Cellular all do too. You can turn each of these off individually by going to SETTINGS or Apple gives instructions for how to disable these all at once, with one click, using their Airplane Mode:

When you enable airplane mode from the Settings screen, an airplane icon appears in the status bar at the top of the screen and the following wireless connections and services are turned off:

Cellular (voice and data)
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
GPS
Location services

Likewise, if you have a Kindle, you can turn off the WiFi component and download books via the USB cable provided.

2. If you know your child is going to be using the iPod or cellphone WiFi network as soon as they’re with their friends, then educate them on HOW to use the device to at least minimize the health risks:

  • Don’t carry or hold the iPod, cellphone or iPad on your body when it’s turned on. Put it down on a rock, bench or table. It’s best if you can be outside when the WiFi is active as that helps to further dissipate the radiation absorbed.
  • Don’t put the device to your head. Use speakerphone or an airtube headset with your cellphone, or a shielding sleeve.
  • Turn the WiFi on to check for messages or texts. Then turn it off while you are answering emails, texts, etc. Turn it back on to send and then turn it off again. Unless you’re waiting for an urgent call, why would you need to check messages/texts every 2 minutes? Yeah I know, but really!
  • When you’re texting or answering emails, go outside if possible, or at least put the device down on a table while replying – you don’t want the device to be anywhere near your organs. Especially keep away from your heart, brain and reproductive organs which have shown to be particularly sensitive.

Famous neurosurgeon Dr. Charlie Teo (who operates on brain tumours every day) won’t talk on his cellphone indoors, he carries it outdoors, puts it down somewhere and talks on speakerphone.

Slowly but surely, there are signs that this information is becoming more widespread – another encouraging tidbit was when bestselling author Tim Ferriss wrote about his discovery that his cellphone and laptop had decreased his “swimmies” (lowered sperm count and motility) in his book 4 Hour Body. He was so sobered by this experience that after keeping all devices away from his lap, pockets, etc. and using health supplements to build his sperm count back up – he went and had 2 lots of his sperm cryogenically frozen!


Tim Ferriss Links Cell Phones to Male Infertility by FORAtv

So my point is, if WiFi radiation can drastically reduce sperm count, morphology (shape) and  motility (direction & speed) in adult males (rendering them infertile), what is it doing to our young children whose reproductive organs are still developing and what is WiFi doing to them during puberty, when those same organs, hormones, etc. are undergoing a lot of change and growth? WE DON’T KNOW.

Because this is the FIRST generation of kids being experimented on with this technology that is completely untested on children. Just to make things nastier, industry already has the technology to make these devices safer! But they don’t care, and because we the public keep buying and using these devices as is, there is no incentive to change.

Getting Kids To Listen

To say this has been a stressful issue for me would be a massive understatement. This is definitely a case of “ignorance is bliss” and if I hadn’t looked at the studies done on plants and animals, I would not be so concerned. But there you have it, I’m a health writer and I research things.

And thankfully, I occasionally come across videos like this one with Steve Aoki (musician, founder of Dim Mak records) advocating safer wireless usage. Steve uses a headset, rather than putting his cell phone to his head. I wish he’d talked about how the headset should have an air tube, or a ferrite bead attached to the wire – to break up the transmission of radiation so it doesn’t go up the wire and directly into your brain. And it would have been even better if he’d said he also doesn’t hold the phone, but puts it down somewhere… but hey, I’m grateful for whatever I can get and show to my kids that it’s not just me advocating caution.

As a meet-you-halfway gesture, we bought our eldest son an iPod Touch (with video etc.) this Christmas. But he agreed to disable the wireless components (which I’ll show you how to do below) and just play games, take photos, videos, etc. I think a lot of the appeal was also just being able to hold a wireless gadget to look cool and be part of the crowd (just saying). Well, that resolution lasted until New Year’s Eve when 4 of his friends were sitting on the couch together and the other boys showed him how to text. So again, we’re back to peer pressure – is he going to turn his WiFi off when all his friends are using it and it’s part of their evening entertainment? Should I give him a pack of cigarettes if he agrees not to light any of them at the party?

If Apple knew that this was even an issue, they could have a parental control function on the WiFi component so it’s password protected independently from the rest of the device. But they only thing Apple (and others) is acknowledging is when they state in their user manual to keep the iPhone at least one inch away from your head.

On the other hand, my younger son (who is 5) is quite happy to play apps on an iPod with the WiFi components disabled. The only problem there is when he goes to playdates at friend’s houses and they have wireless gaming systems like Wii, Playstation, Xbox, etc. My current MO there is tell the friend’s mum he’s only allowed 45 minutes maximum. And then at home, our Xbox, playstation etc. are all wired, as are our computers, telephones, etc.

My friend has a cell phone box. Not because she’s concerned about microwave radiation, but she just thinks it’s ridiculous that kids are on these devices all the time. So when anyone goes to her house (teenagers included) they have to drop their cell phone, iPod, etc. in the cellphone box. Her god-daughter has stopped visiting because of this! Crazy. But a good strategy none-the-less.

One last tip: If you’re not sure of the radiation load in your house, or various devices, see my other article on How To Test WiFi and Cellphone Radiation.

10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Making iPods and iPads Safer For Children

  1. Quite the coincidence that you made reference to the miRNA study published by a Chinese group last fall as it was a matter of recent discussion amongst science journalists talking about retractions, scientific fraud, and corrections. We are waiting to see whether the findings actually hold-up in time as someone spotted that the authors had “accidently” used the same photoshopped image in two different experiments (http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/11/mispaste_its_the_new_typo_1.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+news%2Frss%2Fnewsblog+%28News+Blog+-+Blog+Posts%29) – and submitted a correction when spotted by keen eyes. Unfortunately, this is the reality even in the field that seeks to show the truth.



  2. Pingback: Brain Tumors In Children From Cell Phones | Listen To Your Gut

  3. Thank you for a very practical article!

    It is an important point that, as always, we should educate our children of the ‘Why?’, so that they understand the reasons to avoid exposures (age-appropriately, of course.)

    IF a child is playing on a laptop or iPad (with the wireless disabled!), then they should rather use the device on a table, not on their lap, because of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) present from the device. Using it on a table will mean greater distance between the device and the child’s body. Also, the EMFs will be greatly reduced when the device is running on battery power, and is not connected to AC current.

    Just one other point is that I believe that even when the iPhone is in ‘Airplane mode’, the wi-fi may still be ‘on’. Perhaps I am wrong about this, but it is something to check.



  4. People paint a glowing image of Switzerland as having lower limit values for EMF emissions, wired access to Internet in schools, Wi-Fi-free hospitals and long-term care homes, etc. This is not actually the case. The CEO of Swisscom, the nation’s largest telecoms operator, says that its services end at the school router and that it is up to the school board or the canton to decide to opt for a wired (e.g. fiber optic) or wireless solution. The group of 1,500 doctors in Switzerland, Physicians for the Environment, is asking for lower limit values. Wi-Fi is omnipresent in Geneva, the city where I live: in patients’ rooms in the university hospital, libraries, parks, hotels.



  5. Does anyone know which ipod emits the least amount of radiation? I’m interested in the Ipod Classic that holds 160 GB but I heard it has a fan in it with a motor more like a computer. Would this put off more radiation than a nano?



  6. The iPod Classic and the iPod Nano do not emit microwave radiation as they do not have transmitters. A fan and motor would increase EMFs (electromagnetic fields). Both devices have small amounts of EMFs from the battery power source and the screen. EMFs would be low for normal operation using the DC-battery, but higher when the device is plugged into an AC-power source. (I doubt that the Classic has a fan, but I don’t know; if so, EMFs would presumably be higher). To reduce general exposures to EMFs it is advisable to unplug any AC-powered devices near sleeping areas (i.e. close to the head when sleeping).



  7. Why turn off GPS? Doesn’t GPS only passively interpret signals transmitted from satellites? These signals are transmitted all the time, not on request.



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