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Parents Advised to Rethink Cellphone Use for Children

Parents are advised to limit the time children spend on cellphones because radiation could affect a developing brain. (nih.gov)
Parents are advised to limit the time children spend on cellphones because radiation could affect a developing brain. (nih.gov)
November 7, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Evidence is growing that cellphones may not be as safe as many people think they are.

Earlier this year, a study by the National Toxicology Program found exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the prevalence of highly malignant heart and brain cancers in rodents.

CTIA, the wireless industry association, has said it's reviewing the study, but that previous studies showed no established health effects from radio frequency signals used in cellphones.

Regardless, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this fall issued new recommendations for parents.

Ronald Melnick, formerly with the National Toxicology Program and now a scientific adviser for the Environmental Health Trust, says cellphones emit radiation, and the more people keep them off the body, the safer they will be, especially children.

"The penetration of the cellphone radiation into the brain of a child is deeper and greater,” he points out. “Also, the developing nervous system of a child is potentially more susceptible to a damaging agent."

The AAP recommends that cellphone use by children be limited, and children should text when they do use cellphones. If they do call, children are advised to keep the device an inch or more away from their heads.

Everyone is advised to avoid carrying phones against the body, such as in a pocket, sock or bra.

Melnick says cell phone manufacturers can't guarantee that the amount of radiation people absorb will be at a safe level.

Maryland resident Theodora Scarato is director of Public Policy and Educational Affairs at the Environmental Health Trust. She's also a mother and says she used to believe that what you buy from the store is safe and that it's been tested for safety. But she now says that's not the case.

"If it were a drug it would be banned, or at least there would be a list of ‘These side effects have been reported,’ or at least ‘We don't really know what the long term affect is,’” she states. “But we're not really given any information and little babies are given these phones."

Scarato says it's hard as a parent to tell your children they can't have a cellphone, or to strictly limit the use of other electronics, but her family has done that.

"It has not been easy making some of the changes we've made,” she admits. “But once we've done it we're doing fine!

“And I'm actually really thankful that we don't have devices beeping and interrupting things all the time. Because there's nothing more important than my children's health."


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD