Many parents are on fence about toddler use of iPhones or cell phones. On one hand, bright and flashy gadgets can be an excellent attention grabber for a bored toddler. On the other hand, do we really know what we’re exposing our tots to when we hand over the iPhone? Are we actually allowing our kids to be guinea pigs for a gadget that may have negative health and psychological side effects? Possibly, according to a new book, “Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family,” by Dr. Devra Davis. In this new book, Davis says that cell phones and other like-minded gadgets may expose our kids to some very dangerous health and developmental risks. Read on to get the facts on the cell phone debate.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Dr. Devra Davis isn’t simply a cell phone adversary for the sake of being confrontational. Davis is a renowned cancer expert who has worked with the National Academy of Sciences and a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In her new book, Davis notes that cell phone radiation is a “national emergency,” especially when it comes to children.
According to current research, cell phone radiation could result in damaged DNA, reduced sperm count, memory loss, broken down brain’s defenses and may even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The risks to younger cell phone users may be extremely deadly in the long run because kids’ brains are still growing, thus highly vulnerable to cell phone radiation.
How many kids are actually using cell phones?
According to Davis, a lot of kids are hooked into cell phone use, with half of the world’s four billion cell phones being used by people under the age of 20. Davis isn’t the only person to point this out. Another 2010 report notes that as of 2009, more than 35% of U.S. children ages 10 to 11 had cellphones. That’s double the amount in 2005! Additionally, 20% of 6 to 11-year-olds and 5% of 6 to 7-year-olds had cellphones in 2009.
Even very young kids are using cell phones, as pointed out by a recent New York Times piece on iPhone addicted toddlers in which many happy parents commented about the iPhone being a great cure-all for toddler boredom and a learning tool. Of course, as younger kids have started using phones, iPhone application designers have caught on, and they’re now creating oodles of programs and applications specifically designed for little ones.
Are cell phones really all that bad?
According to most research, yes, cell phones are indeed that bad. As far back as 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency noted that many cell phones contain harmful perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical known to cause sexual reproductive and developmental damage to women and girls. PFOA is also known to cause heart disease and other massive problems like cancer.
Environmental Working Group, (EWG) frowns on cell phone radiation, too. EWG recently complied a comprehensive, 10-month science evaluation of the hazards of cell phone radiation, including data from more than 200 peer-reviewed studies, government advisories and industry documents and the results weren’t pretty. For example, according to EWG:
- Studies of long-term cell phone users (10 years+), show that they have an increased risk of developing two types of brain tumors.
- Researchers have found a 48-58% increased risk of salivary gland tumors among people who make the greatest total number of calls.
- A recent Danish study shows that cell phone users are at an increased risk for neurological symptoms such as migraine and vertigo.
- A study from the University of California, Los Angeles found a correlation between prenatal exposure to cell phone radiation and behavioral problems in children.
But isn’t the iPhone a valuable learning tool?!
Often parents are impressed with iPhone offerings for kids. In fact, we’ve looked at useful applications right here at Inhabitots. There’s even an app that helps your kids explore nature. However, last year when the New York Times ran their cell phone piece, they spoke with many experts who said the advantages don’t outweigh the risks and that cell phones are not a useful learning tool.
For example, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor noted that kids learn much better through active engagement and actively interacting with a screen doesn’t qualify. Another NYTs expert, Jane M. Healy, said, “Any parent who thinks a spelling program is educational for that age is missing the whole idea of how the preschool brain grows. What children need at that age is whole body movement, the manipulation of lots of objects and not some opaque technology.” Other studies disagree though, saying that cell phones can be a useful learning tool and in fact, many teachers and schools are even using iPhones and cell phones in classes.
Where do you stand on kids’ cell phone use?
Cell phones have a long history of health concerns. So many concerns that other nations such as Russia, the UK, Canada, Belgium, Israel, Finland, Germany and India have discouraged the use of cell phones by children and France has now banned the sale of phones to children. In the USA, most health organizations note that more research on cell phone dangers is needed, but most agree that we just don’t know all the risks for sure and kids’ cell phone use should be limited. Another point – if you’re not going to stop or limit your child’s cell phone use, at least make sure you choose a safer cell phone.
Remember, smoking wasn’t considered that bad back in the day. Now of course we know that smoking kills. Before the 90s, the dangers of BPA, pesticides, vinyl and cleaning chemicals were practically unheard of, and not discussed much, yet now we’ve got adults running around with long-lasting environmental toxins in their bodies. If you allow your child to use a cell phone maybe nothing bad will happen. On the flip side, some very terrible health issues could occur. Is it fair to make your child the guinea pig for cell phone hazards? Maybe a good old fashioned book, stuffed toy or sing-a-long is a better, safer choice when it comes to entertaining your child.