LONDON: Children should send texts rather than use their mobile phones for chatting, according to new advice from Wales’ top doctor.
Despite admitting there was no evidence of health dangers from using mobile phones, the Assembly Government said the guidelines had been issued to guard against problems in the future.
Bilingual leaflets encourage people to keep any conversations as short as possible and use a speaker phone or a hands free kit when calling.
The Assembly Government fears that health risks may be found in the future.
Tony Jewell, the chief medical officer for Wales, said: “Protecting the health of the young people of Wales is a priority, and although current research indicates that using mobile phones does not appear to cause health problems, more work is still to be done. We don’t expect young people to stop using mobile phones all together, but there are a few simple steps they can take to protect their health for the future.
“It is always better to be safe than sorry.”
The leaflet, aimed at secondary school-age young people, states: “When you use a mobile phone to make calls it sends out radio signals close to your head. These signals are like those used to bring music to your radio and pictures to your TV. The longer you talk, the more time you are exposed to radio signals.
“Current research does not suggest that young people are especially sensitive to mobile phone signals. More research is needed, however, and the Welsh Assembly Government therefore recommends young people keep down their exposure to radio signals just in case a health concern is found.”
John Jenkins, of BMA Cymru Wales, welcomed the campaign, saying: “Although there is no current evidence of a direct link between mobile phone use by children and any health problems, we agree with the chief medical officer that it would be wise for children to limit their use. We welcome the leaflets and would hope that parents would discuss the issues with their children.”
The Mobile Operators Association – which represents O², Orange, Three, T-Mobile and Vodafone – stressed that there was no evidence of health risks but applauded the campaign.
Executive director John Cooke said: “We welcome these leaflets, which reiterate the advice from the World Health Organisation that there is no need for any special precautions for the use of mobile phones for adults or children.”
He added: “However, if parents are still concerned, they can encourage their children to keep calls short, send texts, or use ‘hands-free’ devices, as the leaflets advise them to do.”
NHS Wales Direct warns that radio waves from mobile phones are absorbed into body tissue as energy.
It cautions: “Only use your phone when the reception is strong – this is often indicated by bars of energy on your phone screen. Weak reception causes the phone to use more energy to communicate with the base station.
“Children are thought to be at higher risk of health implications from the use of mobile phones. This is because their skulls and cells are still growing and tend to absorb radiation more easily.”
When Pontypool-based bioelectromagnetics campaigner Roger Coghill was told of the publicity drive, he said: “About time!”
He urges people to “keep the calls short and of less than five minutes duration”.
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