If my child was suddenly and unexplainably diagnosed with cancer and died 11 months later, I would be searching high and low for answers that may or may not exist. I would be so heartbroken that I wouldn't know where to turn, what to do with myself, or how to create a positive situation out of a heartbreaking, horrifying one. So I can't fault these parents from New Zealand for blaming the death of their 10-year-old son, who was diagnosed with brain cancer less than one year before he lost his battle with the disease, on their son's school's Wifi and iPad usage. But, in spite of some surprising coincidences that have been revealed, they may be taking things too far by fighting all schools in their district to get rid of technology.
When doctors found tumors on Ethan Wyman's brain, they told his parents they were about 3 months old. The young boy had been issued an iPad as part of his school's 1:1 education initiative 4 months prior to the doctors' discovery. Ethan's father says that, while he doesn't blame the school's technological advancements for causing his son's cancer, he can't help but feel like it's too big a coincidence to ignore.
Ethan's parents are making a big push to the school board to remove all iPads and Wifi connections from local schools. They reportedly have two children who still attend the school, which may explain why they feel passionately about this -- or maybe they are really just trying to do something they feel is positive in order to counter the awful event that very recently shattered their lives.
But the Wyman's may find themselves fighting an impossible battle. Both the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education find no link between Wifi and cancer. And, though we should remain skeptical since a few studies have found a possible link between cell phones and cancer, the majority claim tech is safe enough to use in schools.
We also shouldn't downplay the important role tech is occupying in schools. In this country, Common Core Learning Standards practically require that computers are incorporated into lessons. Students who use devices like iPads have access to a world of information that reaches far beyond their textbooks.
Given the lack of scientific proof here, it seems like the benefits of technology outweigh the possible harmful effects. I feel for these parents and understand why they are making this effort to change their schools, but I'm not sure this is the right battle to fight.
Do you think schools should get rid of technology because of a possible link to cancer?
Image via flickingerbrad/Flickr
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