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 their rapid adoption as educational tools for children: How safe are they?
For years, people have been concerned that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by cell phones 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 cell phones 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 cell phones.
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 cell phones 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 cells phones, 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 can have health consequences. For example, there are a number of accounts on forums from people who became dizzy or nauseous 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 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 act as powerful antioxidants, helping to neutralize free radicals — dangerous molecules that can damage DNA.
Start with fruits and vegetables, particularly brightly colored ones. The same molecules that make them colorful also provide antioxidant protection. Certain botanical and nutritional supplements can also be an important source of antioxidants to help maintain cellular health and DNA integrity.
Regular detoxification can also help to reduce inflammation, protect cellular health and improve the body’s natural defenses.
How we use tablets effects our exposure. Thoroughly read device instructions, which describe where the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular antennas are located. Try to keep these antennas away from the 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.