Sat, May 29, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Plan to introduce e-schoolbag may pose health risks

RADIATIONA Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker said children who carry wireless e-schoolbags would risk exposure to electromagnetic waves

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to reconsider its plan to have replace elementary-school students’ schoolbags with laptop computers, citing health concerns.

“New technology usually has side effects that we are unaware of. Without notebook [computers], our children can still learn,” she said, adding that the policy could leave children and parents with no way to avoid the health threat posed by electromagnetic waves from laptops.

Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), chairwoman of the Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association, said children would be ­exposed to electromagnetic waves of between 3,000 microwatts and 10,000 microwatts when they use laptops or e-schoolbags for wireless study.

The ministry has implemented the e-schoolbag policy at five elementary schools — two in Taipei City, one in Taipei County, one in Kaohsiung and the other in Hualien — on a trial basis since August last year.

The two-year trial is meant to help the ministry understand whether the policy can help reduce the burden of heavy schoolbags and facilitate students’ learning.

Laptops are not the only e-schoolbag option. Tablet PCs, e-book readers and PDAs may also serve as e-schoolbags because of their portability.

Chen said she was concerned about whether e-schoolbags would widen the gap between the rich and the poor as not every family would be able to afford a laptop or similar device.

She said that children might grow used to typing and lose their writing ability because of e-schoolbags.

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