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Health risk over school laptops played down

EDUCATION bosses have played down fears that children's health could be put at risk by laptop computers.

Thousands of schoolchildren across the county now use laptop computers as both primary and secondary schools have embraced wireless technology.

Many are even provided with their own personal laptops when they start secondary school, in line with the education authority's drive to provide every pupil with individual access to some kind of computer.

But Professor Lawrie Challis, the head of the Government's committee on mobile phone safety research, said children should not place computers with wireless internet connections on their laps until research into the potential health risks have been analysed.

He said: "Since we advise that children should be discouraged from using mobile phones, we should also discourage children from placing their laptop on their lap when they are using wi-fi."

Kent County Council insisted there was no independent evidence that supported claims about possible health risks. However, the education authority said it would now recommend to schools that children use laptops on desks or other surfaces - but only to limit the discomfort caused by heat generated by the processor and battery.

Alan Day, KCC's digital curriculum policy officer, said: "There is no evidence that wireless networks present a hazard to either children or staff. Wireless networks operate at very low energy levels and the Health Protection Agency has not identified any risk associated with wireless network use."

No Kent schools had reported any health and safety concerns, he added and KCC would continue to "fully exploit the economic potential technology", he added.

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