Public Engagement with Science in Everyday Life: Perceptions of Wi-Fi Radiation Risks in Schools

Keren Dalyot, Aviv J. Sharon, Daniela Orr, Yael Barel Ben-David, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wi-Fi radiation is a type of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) that refers to the transfer of energy by radio waves. Nowadays, exposure to RF radiation is widespread including wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi) routers and cell phones. The proliferation of devices emitting RF radiation has entailed some public and media-generated controversy, although scientific evidence has not pointed to the existence of risk. Using the theoretical perspectives of science literacy, public engagement with science, and science media literacy, this work examines public engagement with science-related media reports in a context involving risk. A qualitative design was followed to address multiple viewpoints including an analysis of an authentic primetime TV program concerning the risks of Wi-Fi, its messages, and frames, solicited a public response to the coverage via interviews and decision-making simulation (n = 20), and unsolicited public response based on social media discussions (n = 315 comments). Our findings suggest that a lack of relevant scientific knowledge does not seem to be related to participants’ general scientific literacy among people with higher education. Moreover, interviewees did not place much emphasis on having adequate knowledge in making their decision. These findings emphasize that we need to expand our understanding of the different ways that make scientific knowledge relevant when making decisions on scientific issues that relate directly to everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1054
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Science Education
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Public engagement with science
  • RF radiation
  • Scientific literacy
  • Social media

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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