Are we in denial about mobile phone dangers?

The decision of the WHO to classify mobile phones as a possible carcinogen has led to a frenzy of coverage, on air and in print.

Most of the media reports have aimed to play down the risks. Yet the very evidence that the WHO drew on to classify wireless radiation as a class 2 carcinogen was impressive and extensive. They reviewed hundreds of studies, including some as yet unpublished: it was a consummately scientific assessment.

So why the apparent eagerness to play down that evidence and the new WHO decision?

Journalists’ working lives depend on wireless devices, be they mobiles, laptops or iPads. They don’t want to believe that what have become essential tools of their trade are dangerous. Neither do their readers, especially those with children.

But after last week’s widely-reported Council of Europe declaration that young people are at high risk of radiation damage from wireless equipment, any parent – writer or reader, teacher or doctor – should be concerned.

Why the widespread denial then?

Because people feel themselves caught in an all-or-nothing dilemma: deny the evidence and live with the unfolding health risks; accept it and you’ll have to bin your mobile. Significantly, that would mean parents denying their kids one of their most treasured toys, with all the conflict that supposes.

But it’s not that black-and-white.

Children – and their parents – can reduce these emerging health risks greatly by using their phones more intelligently: it’s as simple as that.

No one keeps children indoors because the roads are dangerous: we simply increase their awareness of the dangers and teach them how to cross roads safely. Child mortality – proportionate to the number of cars on the roads – has decreased as a result.

That kind of pragmatic ‘Green Cross Code’ approach is even more important with mobile use.

The dangers of crossing the road carelessly are not cumulative; the health risks resulting from excessive mobile use are. And for our children, those risks will accumulate over an entire lifetime.

So what is the answer? It can be encapsulated in just five simple, practical rules that any child can understand, the Safe Mobile Code:

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