Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

‘Technology harming our children’ MPs say

Studies show that children and teenagers spend 78 per cent of their free time on laptops, phones and other electronic devices

By Andria Kades

Lawmakers yesterday discussed what Greens leader Giorgos Perdikis called damning evidence of psychological and physical effects on children from using mobile phones, tablets, laptops and Wi-Fi.

Speaking after a session of the House environment committee, Perdkis said the Green Party would be tabling the issue to the House for a reduction to the acceptable limit for electromagnetic radiation.

An EU Council Recommendation in 1999 limits the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields from 0Hz to 300 GHz.

Perdikis said that based on the evidence, children and teenagers should be banned from using such technology, and went as far as to say that it was criminal to allow children to access electronic devices.

He recommended a series of measures such as banning the use of mobile phones to minors, not building primary schools and nurseries near mobile phone antennas, and axing Wi-Fi at schools.

“The aim right now is to get a discussion going,” Perdikis told the Cyprus Mail later in the day. Although there was no concrete decision as to what number the limit would actually be, he said the initial proposal would probably be 150GHz, half of the EU’s recommended limit.

“We can’t just solve this through laws. We need to create a culture that combats this problem. You can’t have a policeman in every person’s home monitoring how much time children spend on their computer,” he said.

Perdikis hoped the discussion would encourage MPs to want to emulate other countries such as Italy, Greece and Canada that have reduced the ‘acceptable limit’ of electromagnetic radiation.

Committee Chairman Adamos Adamou said 70 per cent of studies by the National Committee for the Environment and Children’s health proved the ill effects of the technology people are so attached to.

Citing studies by the Pedagogical Institute, Adamou said children spend some two hours on their computers or laptops daily and just as many again on their mobile phones and tablets. This doubles on the weekend. “The larger the exposure, the greater the risk,” he said.

In all, the studies showed that children and teenagers spend 78 per cent of their free time on phones and other electronic devices. Some 70 per cent of studies said the effects were harmful, and included psychological ill effects such as depression, he added.

Asked if there were any vested interests suppressing moves to make a difference Adamou said that during his tenure at the European Parliament, the environment committee he was a member of, used to receive such studies but they would then be conveniently hidden in a drawer.

Adamou also said parents in Cyprus were not well informed of the dangers associated with technology thus highlighting the need for a campaign to serve the purpose of sharing studies, he added.

As an oncologist he called on all families to not let children under the age of 14 use mobile phones or tablets.

If they had to, it should be for a limited time, he added stressing a World Health Organisation report in 2011 warning mobile phone radiation can cause illnesses and malignancies.

France has voted on a law banning Wi-Fi in schools, Austria has banned the use of mobile phones in schools while in Cyprus Adamou said “we announce the installing Wi-Fi in schools and say there will be measurements”.

These measurements however should have taken place before installing the Wi-Fi, he stressed.

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