In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Why Johnny Can’t Learn

Posted by seumasach on March 10, 2010

Foreign Language Corner

9th March, 2010

We take the incredible technological advances that have been made in the past 50 years for granted. Technology that was once a distant dream is now a part of the fiber and fabric of our culture. A typical American home is equipped with microwaves, cell phones, cordless phones, PDAs, computers, and a wide assortment of technological gadgetry designed to make life easier.
However, what price are we paying for these advances and, more importantly, what price are our children paying for living in a world filled with these energy emitting devices?


In spite of the occasional debate on safety, most of us have come to regard cellular phones as fairly harmless. After all, if cell phones were in any way hazardous to our health, we would know about it. The sheer accessibility allays any potential fears about their use. Cigarettes are also widely available but we now know without question that not only are they harmful to the user but to those around the user as well. However, widespread tobacco use went on for hundreds of years before the connection between it and the fatalities it causes was made. Until then, the vast majority of people didn’t consider cigarettes, pipes, or any other form of tobacco use hazardous. Are we guilty of being lulled into a similarly false sense of security about cell phones?
The answer is an emphatic and resounding “Yes.”
Before you dismiss that as an alarmist cry of an anti-technology fringe of society, let’s take a closer look. Estimates indicate that we are exposed to 100 million times more radiation per day than in our grandparents’ generation.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) are low levels of radiation which are generated by electronic devices. Initial concerns about radiation were dismissed because of low level of exposure. We learned to live with microwaves because our homes were not filled with other devices. Yet, what is the risk now, when our homes are filled with electronic devices, our cars are powered by micro-computers, we are surrounded by power lines and cell towers, and we spend hours a day with a portable phone held to our ear?
Cellular phones generate a field known as Radio Frequency Radiation (RF). A number of studies have concluded that RF from mobile phones poses significant health risk to users, including headaches, memory loss, autism, brain cancers, leukemia and learning disorders. The Committee on Electromagnetic Energy/Public Health Issues stated in an Australian Government Discussion paper that : “Human exposure of radio frequency radiation is greatest from mobile phone handsets because of the method of use, with the transmitting antenna of the mobile phone handset close to the head. There is evidence that localized hot spots or energy deposition in the brain may occur as a consequence of internal reflections.” In another study conducted by leading neurosurgeon, Dr. Leif Salford and colleagues at Lund University in Sweden the data indicated an “unambiguous link between microwave radiation emitted by GSM mobile phones (the most common type worldwide) and brain damage in rats.” There are hundreds of studies with correlative data indicating that this is far more than an anti-establishment ploy concocted by paranoid believers who fear technology and little green men.
Just as the information on the dangers of tobacco was hidden in plain sight, one need only scratch beneath the surface to find warnings about cell phone use. Scientists have warned parents to exercise caution in providing cell phones to children younger than eight years of age as there is little known about the effect of radiation on developing brains. Paul Brodeur, a noted science journalist, was one of the first in the medical community to issue a public alert about the dangers of EMF. Brodeur warned that introducing your body to new forces such as EMF created a condition known as “adaptation stress.” In this condition the body is sent into chaos as it tries to adapt to the new forces. Brodeur identified symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, lack of concentration and focus, headaches, backaches and increased emotional volatility. Is it a coincidence that many of these symptoms which we have come to associate with and label as learning disorders in children have increased dramatically over the past decade?
In another study, conducted by the Spanish Neuro Diagnostic Research Institute, it was found that a cell phone call lasting only two minutes not only opens the blood-brain barrier (in children and adults) allowing toxins into the blood stream which can attack brain cells, but in children that same two minute exposure could disrupt the natural electrical activity of their brain for up to an hour following the call. So alarming was the data that Dr. Gerald Hyland, mobile phone adviser to the British Government, was quoted as saying “If I were a parent I would now be extremely wary about allowing my children to use a mobile even for a very short period. My advice would be to avoid mobiles.”
The cell phone industry is targeting the very profitable children’s market. Cell phone makers are marketing “Disney phones” and kid-friendly versions with parental controls. The industry is no longer content to have the adult and teen market, but in nationwide back-to-school campaigns, they aggressively market to tweens and younger.
We may not have all of the answers today, but the information we do have is alarming. How much more evidence do we need before we take the dangers to our children seriously?

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