Christmas – what does it mean to you?
For my parent’s generation who grew up in post war Britain blighted by severe rationing well into the 1950’s, Christmas meant a stocking by the fire with an orange and an apple.
It meant a good meal, meat and two veg, a pudding with brandy sauce and perhaps a glass of sherry or port.
It meant huddling around the radio in the front room to listen to the Queens speech.
It meant going to church to celebrate the birth of Christ.
But the most memorable part of Christmas was spending time with the family. In those days people didn’t travel like today so the get-togethers, when they did happen, were momentous occasions. Every home had a piano in the front room and festivities would be rounded off with a family sing-along around the piano.
In the 1970s, when I grew up, the presents had already taken precedence and the religious aspect had been pretty much forgotten. We’d still get together but the sing-alongs had been replaced by the opening presents ritual and watching Christmas specials on the TV.
What’s Christmas About Today?
For many of us it’s nothing more than a huge commercial bonanza.
If you’ve got kids that probably means gadgets: smart phones, smart watches, Google Glasses, computer tablets, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii and the like.
There is a huge problem with these kinds of devices.
I’m not going to go on a rant. Instead first I’d like to remind you what Christmas should really be about. Then I'm going to lay out my low EMF action plan.
What Christmas Should Be About
It should be about goodwill and celebrating love in its many forms. Every year there are incredible stories of people reaching out in love and kindness to their fellow men. That’s what you should strive for this Christmas. That’s what I’m striving for.
If that seems beyond your reach just go for the goodwill bit. At the very least it’s an opportunity to be more tolerant with family members you don’t see very often.
Now for my EMF rant. Kids crave these wireless gadgets and it’s no surprise, the technology is hugely seductive. These devices give kids access to the Internet in places they’ve never had it before: on the school bus, in the doctor's waiting room, or on a drive to see Grandma and Grandad.
How many preschoolers can’t tie their shoelaces? And yet you put something with a screen on it in their hands and they know intuitively what to do.
So what do you do, do you ban these gadgets outright? You can do that, but speaking as a father, you’re fighting a losing battle. This technology is here to stay. If you want your children to have a fair chance of succeeding in life it's essential that they are able to navigate the byways of our wired world.
Is there a middle road?
The Middle Road
There is. The middle road consists of educating them as to the dangers of their toys and teaching them how to use the technology safely.
Shouldn’t our schools and educational institutions be doing this?
They should but they’re not. So the responsibility is down to you. But Christmas is probably not the best time to do that – this is something you need to work on all year round.
But there things you can do.
Christmas Action Plan
Here’s what you can do at Christmas time:
- Do your homework
- Take readings with an EMF meter
- Take readings in front of your child
1. Do Your Homework
Before you buy that gadget which all their friends have got, do your homework. Look at the small print in the user manual. Most of the user manuals are on line now. What does it say? Is it an RF emitting device? Does it use Bluetooth technology? Can the wireless function be turned off?
Here are some excerpts from the user manuals of some well-known products:
“To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been tested or certified.” Source.
“To comply with IC RF exposure compliance requirements, the antenna used for this transmitter must be installed to provide a separation distance of at least 20 cm from all persons and must not be co-located or operating in conjunction with any other antenna or transmitter.” Source.
Samsung Laptop 3G connection
“Usage precautions during 3G connection: Keep safe distance from pregnant women’s stomachs or from lower stomachs of teenagers.
Body worn operation: Important safety information regarding radiofrequency radiation (RF) exposure.To ensure compliance with RF exposure guidelines the Notebook PC must be used with a minimum of 20.8 cm antenna separation from the body.” Source.
See also this website.
2. Take Readings With An EMF Meter
When you have made your purchase, BEFORE you wrap it up and give it to your child, test with your EMF meter. When you switch the wireless off does it stay off or does it come back on again after the device has been powered down? Your EMF meter will tell you this. It will also tell you what kind of EMFs the device is emitting and the exposure levels.
If you’re not happy with the way the device works take it back to the shop and buy something safer.
How best to educate them? As the saying goes ‘seeing is believing’.
3. Take Readings In Front Of Your Child
When they open their present on Christmas day let them experience the joy of their new present then get your EMF meter out. You don’t want them to get into bad habits so don’t leave this too long. Show them the readings. If your child see's the flashing lights and numbers whizzing up and down on your EMF meter there's more chance he'll believe what you're saying – if your EMF meter's got audio this will make an even bigger impression. Explain to them the dangers then set down the ground rules for how their new toy can be used safely.
If you don’t have an EMF meter to do this testing now’s the time to order one from Santa. At the very least you want something that can measure magnetic fields and RF radiation.
For more tips on a low EMF Christmas click here.