Parents urged to limit children’s use of mobiles, cordless phone under new health warnings
by:Natasha Bita, National Social Editor
- From:News Limited Network
- March 03, 2013 9:00pm
At least 75 per cent of high school students own a mobile phone, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.
PARENTS should limit kids’ use of mobile and cordless phones, Australia’s radiation watchdog recommends in new health advice.
The Federal Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) also suggests that baby monitors be kept a metre away from cots, to minimise any electromagnetic emissions.
“Due to the lack of scientific evidence on mobile and cordless phone use by children, ARPANSA recommends that parents encourage their children to limit their exposure,” the agency states in its first “fact sheet” for consumers to reduce exposure from wireless devices including mobile phones.
“One way to exercise caution is to reduce unnecessary exposure from your handset and to encourage your children to do this.
“Remember, it doesn’t have to be done for every phone call and in an emergency there are better things to worry about.”
Nearly one in four of Australia’s nine-year-olds and at least 75 per cent of high school students own a mobile phone, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said that while the health risks were low, it was best that children did not hold mobile phones directly to their ears.
“With children’s growing brains, you do want to reduce exposure,” he said.”Even putting your thumb between your ear and the phone can reduce radiation.”
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
The ARPANSA fact sheet states that wireless technology is so new that “it’s impossible to be completely sure there isn’t some risk.”
“This is particularly true for children where there is little research evidence,” it says.
ARPANSA says baby monitors, Wi-Fi computer networks and wireless security cameras also emit radiofrequency electromagnetic energy.
It says exposure can be reduced by “keeping them at a distance” – such as placing the wireless router away from where people spend time, or reducing the time spent online.
The agency suggests using an old-fashioned wired-in landline phone instead of cordless phones, many of which “are continually transmitting low-level signals”
In response to questions from News Limited yesterday, ARPANSA said keeping baby monitors a metre from cots could result in a “useful reduction in exposure”.
“Given the priority we give to children’s and babies’ health, and the small amount of research specifically relating to children’s exposure to (emissions) it would seem wise to err on the side of caution and keep the baby monitor only as close to the baby as is necessary for it to serve its purpose,” a spokesman said.
ARPANSA said it recommended that schools “give some priority to locating Wi-Fi access points so they are not unnecessarily close to some children” – although it did not specify a distance.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association spokesman Randal Markey yesterday said phone companies “don’t claim to be scientific experts so we’d listen to what ARPANSA says.”