Is cell phone radiation risky for children?
Yet another reason for kids to unplug from their digital devices? Children, use electronic devices, be it tablets, mobiles and smartwatches, for hours every day – and it seems to be common to have developed symptoms that look like addictive behaviour. Is your child exhibiting such behaviour too? Then you need to be on guard!
Cell phones emit a type of radiation known as “Radio Frequency-Electromagnetic Radiation (RF-EMR), also referred to as microwave radiation. There have been concerns from the scientific community about whether or not cell phones are safe, especially for children.
Below are a few studies we came across and have reported as-is. There are several studies on the impact of cell phone radiation on children [Source: https://www.center4research.org/]
- A 2010 study of cell phone radiation noted that in general and on average, children suffer a higher exposure of their brain regions than adults. This is because children have proportionally smaller heads and brains, yet receive the same levels of cell phone radiation as adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying that when used by children, the average RF energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults.
- Another study found that people who begin using cell phones (and cordless landline phones) before the age of 20 are at an even higher risk of developing brain tumours than people who begin using these wireless phones as adults. This is because of the closer proximity of the source of radiation to the brain of kids (they have thinner tissues and bones than adults).
- Research also suggests that cell phone exposure could affect children’s behaviour. The children in the study who were hyperactive or had emotional or behavioural problems, including trouble getting along with other kids, were much more likely to have mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy. After accounting for other factors that could affect behaviour, the children of these mothers were 80% more likely to have behavioural problems than children whose mothers rarely or didn’t use cell phones. However, this is difficult to study because mothers who use cell phones frequently during pregnancy or after the baby is born, may pay less attention to their children, resulting in the children’s bad behaviour. More research is needed to understand the link between a mother’s cell phone use and children’s behaviour.
- Children that used cell phones more were more likely to have ADHD. Although the link to ADHD was only for children who also had high levels of lead in their blood, when researchers adjusted for blood lead level, they still found that ADHD was more likely for children who made more phone calls and spent a longer amount of time on the phone. This study was conducted in Korea, so it would be important to do similar research on children living in other countries.
- A 2014 article reviewing studies on children and their cell phone use found that the younger the child, the greater the risk of brain cancer and brain tumours. The same article also points to studies concluding that cell phones are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (due to adolescents putting cell phones in their bras), parotid (salivary) gland tumours, and sperm damage for adolescents and adults.
Digital devices and the spectrum of invisible radiofrequency waves they transmit are changing rapidly and long-term exposure to wireless radiation could result in long-lasting health harm.
As stated even in the research above, the rate of RF-EMR absorption is higher in children than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner.
Parents need to remember that cell phones may be an easy way to distract children or keep them occupied. However, they come with their own set of vices.
As a parent, you need to make sure:
- You are limiting your child’s exposure to radiofrequency devices
- If your kids use your phone to play games, use airplane mode
- To turn off wireless devices at night.
- Keep the Wi-Fi router away from children’s bedrooms.
- Use parental control apps on your child’s phone
Parents also need to teach older children to:
- To use a headset or speaker while talking on the cellphone, rather than holding it directly to your ear.
- To keep the phone away from the body – for example, on a table instead of a pocket.
- At night, never keep the phone under the pillow or in bed.
As with every technology or tool, a mobile phone is too like a double-edged sword. The power of the internet and smartphone is tremendous, and it is quite a learning tool for children while on the other hand, there are limitations. However, parents need to keep things in moderation and restricting usage hours goes a long way in ensuring children’s well-being, especially health-wise.