Kids love iPads. They’re bright, easy to use, tactile and fun. There have even been videos of toddlers tapping print magazines to close or expand images — and being disappointed when that doesn’t work. In a way, tablets have changed the way we think about the world.
But there’s a question that’s beginning to dawn, especially considering the rapid adoption of these devices as educational tools for children: How safe are they?
For years, people have been concerned that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by cellphones and other sources are dangerous, possibly carcinogenic. However, since tablets are basically enlarged phones, they might also pose a risk. With so many of these and similar devices being brought into schools, we need to take a hard look at the potential dangers.
Electromagnetic fields are produced by any electrically charged object. In other words, we are pretty much surrounded by them. More research needs to be done, but there is some early evidence they can do harm.
A study in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology found EMFs from cellphones can damage DNA in the brain. Another study, published in the International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, Also showed a heightened risk of DNA damage from cellphones.
In 2011, the World Health Organization classified EMFs as potential carcinogens. Let’s be clear: This does not mean EMFs cause cancer. It simply means the issue warrants further research. Since there are billions of cellphones in the world, the sooner we figure out their safety level, the sooner we can figure out what constitutes appropriate use.
But what about tablets? They are similar to cellphones, and every time a tablet refreshes a Web page it emits radiation. They are certainly wonderful tools, but what are the risks?
Looking at the numbers, iPads in Wi-Fi mode may produce significantly more radiation than smart phones, even when not connected to a network. Because children can use iPads for long periods, they may be getting quite a dose. This is concerning because we need to clarify what constitutes a safe EMF level.
However, there is significant anecdotal evidence already that EMFs from tablet computers do, in fact, produce health consequences. For example, there are a number of accounts on forums from people who became dizzy or nauseated after using an iPad. Again, we must approach this with caution. They could be reacting to the EMF, but they could also be sensitive to the flicker from their screens.
It’s also quite possible that some people are more sensitive to EMF radiation. There have been many personal anecdotal accounts of people experiencing migraines, fatigue and insomnia and other issues when exposed to such radiation.
Whether we can prove sensitivity to EMFs or not, there are a number of ways to protect ourselves from the effects of different types of radiation in general. The first line of defense is adopting a diet rich in plant-based nutrients. Phytonutrient compounds such as polyphenols can help neutralize free radicals, dangerous molecules that can damage human DNA.
Start with fruits and vegetables, particularly brightly colored ones. The same molecules that make them colorful also provide antioxidant protection. Food-based vitamins are also an important source of antioxidants, particularly vitamins C, A, E and D3.
We’ve often noted that people who have trouble with EMFs also show sensitivity to heavy metals and other toxins. As part of a comprehensive detox, we recommend both modified citrus pectin (MCP) and alginates, which are derived from fruit peels and brown kelp respectively. These botanicals are excellent at removing heavy metals, as well as radioactive isotopes. MCP also binds to the inflammatory protein galectin-3, which has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
How we use tablets affects our exposure. We strongly recommend that everyone thoroughly read their device instructions, which describe where the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular antennas are located. Try to keep these antennas away from your body. Limit use when possible.
There’s no doubt that iPads and other tablets are an advanced technology. They are also new, and their safety quotient isn’t fully understood. Twenty years from now, we may find they pose no appreciable risk. We could also find the opposite. In our view, it’s best to play it safe.