Aegis Corporation Home Page Back To Previous Page
Print This Page
Close Window

Mobiles 'Are Good For Children's Brains'
Evening Standard
Journalist: Isabel Oakeshott
September 22, 2004

The head of Britain's Parent Teacher Associations was at the centre of an extraordinary row today after suggesting that mobile phone radiation could improve children's brains.

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth, David Butler said he had heard "striking" anecdotal evidence that the heat from handsets improved pupils' performance at school.

He went on to claim that he had seen no evidence whatsoever that the phones pose a risk. But his claims fly in the face of government advice, which discourages the use of mobiles by under 16s.

Many experts fear that children are particularly vulnerable to low-level radiation emission from phones and believe they should only use the handsets in emergencies.

Millions of children now have mobile phones despite persistent questions about their safety.

Although there is no concrete evidence they cause harm, it is widely accepted that they heat the head and brain.

Mr Butler made the comments at a meeting on safety issues linked to mobile phones.

The event was hosted by mobile phone giant O2. Mr Butler shared a panel with two representatives from the company.

During a question and answer session with Lib-Dem conference delegates, Mr Butler shrugged off concerns about health risks - claiming he had heard that the heating effect was good for children.

Questioned by a parent in the audience about the potential harmful effects of radiation from the handsets, Mr Butler said: "Actually, from a perspective of pupil performance, it can enhance things, because that heating effect actually improves the neuron transfers between neural pathways, and therefore your thinking ability goes up."

He claimed he had been told this by a British professor, but would not identify the scientist concerned. He also said he personally-agreed that the handsetsdid not pose a risk to children.

Mr Butler said: "I take a pragmatic point of view. If I walk out of this hotel tonight, I endure a health risk. Living carries a health risk.

"What I am saying is that any parent has to weigh up what is perceived to be the risk in any situation, and then use whatever means they feel appropriate to minimise that risk. I personally have not seen any piece of paper that says to me there is a health risk, which would give me concern."

He stressed the evidence that heat from mobiles improved children's performance at school was "anecdotal" but added: "I have yet to see there is actually evidence that that would create a health problem.

"But I mean, even frankly if there was, I would still be wanting to weigh up what someone was telling me about a health problem against the other benefits that that technology was giving."

Government experts believe the jury is still out on the safety of handsets. In 2000 the Stewart Report, the largest independent inquiry in the world into the safety of mobiles, warned that children should strictly limit their use of mobile phones.

It identified subtle biological effects which might not trigger illnesses, such as brain tumours, for 20 years.

Top of Page