With the century termed one of digital connect from the use of desktops at work, laptops at homes and handy digital gadgets such as tablets, smartphones and even watches for the intervening period, digital products and connectivity to the internet are becoming part and parcel of daily lives.
What most people do not understand is that the excessive use of anything — good or bad — can manifest in multiple ways, including the formation of an addiction. Addiction of any kind can have serious consequences.
This is beginning to manifest itself with digital technology with health experts warning that that excessive use of smart gadgets could pose a host of health risks.
The least of these would impairment of eyesight. It could also lead to a number of other issues such as stunting brain growth amongst children, causing memory loss, weakening cognitive abilities, which could in turn, impair decision-making.
Speaking to the media, health experts said that teenagers were particularly at risk from excessive internet usage causing mental, physical and psychological issues. A senior psychiatrist was of the opinion that people did not have proper knowledge about the negative impacts of the fast-growing modern trend of watching social websites. “People have become habitual of taking help from numerous websites. There is no more mental exercise in finding facts or having a discussion or going through books and newspapers. This is alarming,” the psychiatrist claimed. “It is true that the internet has turned the world into a global room and brought the information to the people’s fingertips, but unfortunately it has also caused a number of long-lasting health and moral issues,” the psychiatrist maintained.
The disproportionate screen time was also causing abnormalities amongst teenagers and claimed that it was harming their nervous systems. Children are losing moral values and becoming impatient, unsocial and lazy. The internet surfing was leading to a host of disorders such as insomnia, laziness and improper eating. It is also causing obesity, which further leads to diabetes and depression at a very tender age. Some cases attempted suicide and have suffered from deep depression and anxiety after being bullied on the internet.
The internet addiction was quickly forming the worst part of modern life. Students have little choice other than to use the internet to complete their assignments. The teachers have responded to the growing use of the internet and have started handing out complicated assignments which demand much use of the internet to be completed.
What is 5G?
5G is a wireless mobile network that was deployed in 2019 to help improve telecommunications and mobile connectivity. It works at a higher wave frequency than its predecessors in order to allow for this upgrade in usage.
Conspiracy theories about 5G networks have skyrocketed since COVID-19
An increasing number of conversations on and offline have claimed to find insidious links between the roll out of 5G networks and coronavirus. Claims suggesting that COVID-19 serves as a cover up for health hazards of 5G, or that the technology itself suppresses the immune system are just two of a number of theories in circulation that experts say are “baseless”. But celebrities have also joined the conversation, with US actor Woody Harrelson sharing a post on Instagram that linked 5G to the pandemic, and TV personality Jason Gardiner suggesting the World Health Organization had warned against the mobile network due to the illness. In the UK and Netherland the situation further intensified after reports that at least one phone mast was suspected to have been deliberately set on fire.
What are the claims relating to 5G being harmful to health?
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, there were already discussions about the effects 5G could have on a person’s health, due to these higher frequencies and the type of radiation it emits. But since the outbreak, the 5G conversation seems to have found itself linked to the disease with people claiming it could exacerbate the spread through its frequencies, or by suppressing the immune system. Others have claimed the virus is, in fact, being used to cover up dangerous effects of the mobile network.
So – is 5G linked to coronavirus?
The short answer is no. In fact, the UK government has gone further to say there is “absolutely no credible link” between the two.
Meanwhile, Mobile UK, a trade union for British mobile providers, also commented on the “baseless” claims that it said were “not grounded in accepted scientific theory”. “More worryingly,” it added: “Some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretense of claims about 5G. “This is not acceptable and only impacts on our ability as an industry to maintain the resilience and operational capacity of the networks to support mass home working and critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals.” “Yes, there are fears about the health implications of 5G but they have to do with cancer and not viral infections.”
Is 5G linked to any health hazards at all?
Electromagnetic waves emit electromagnetic radiation, which at high frequencies are believed to pose a risk of causing cancer.
However, low frequencies – such as 5G frequencies – produce a non-ionising form of radiation that is not thought to be able to penetrate and damage cells.
5G frequencies may be higher than that of 4G and other earlier networks, but they are still far lower than the limits stipulated in international guidelines.
The World Health Organisation, which has a detailed guide on the mobile network, said “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies”, even after “much research” was carried out. It noted that only a few studies had been carried out on the frequencies used by 5G, but “provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.”
What are the international exposure guidelines?
Two international bodies produce exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. Many countries currently adhere to the guidelines recommended by: The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection; The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers “IEEE”, through the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety.
What is WHO doing?
WHO is conducting a health risk assessment from exposure to radiofrequencies, covering the entire radiofrequency range, including 5G, to be published by 2022. WHO will review scientific evidence related to potential health risks from 5G exposure as the new technology is deployed, and as more public health-related data become available.
WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996. The project investigates the health impact of exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz and advises national authorities on EMF radiation protection. WHO advocates for further research into the possible long-term health impacts of all aspects of mobile-telecommunications. The Organization identifies and promotes related research priorities. It also develops public information materials and promotes dialogue among scientists, governments, and the public to increase understanding around health and mobile communications.
About the Author
Dr Adel Abdulla Al Refaei is an Electric Engineering and Energy Consultant and Academic Director at Laurels Centre for Global Educational Services.
An IEEE SSIT Member, Adel is the Past Chair of the IEEE Bahrain Section.
This article represents the author’s opinion. Published by Miriam Cunningham