Was a new cell phone one of your child's favorite gifts this year? While being able to keep in touch at all times, having instant access to a world of information and, of course, "face timing" with loved ones is a convenience smartphones afford, it may come with a cost: your child's health.
The California Department of Health (DOH) issued guidelines last month to limit radiation exposure associated with cell phone usage. Within the guidelines were distinct warnings about the impact on children's health.
Children have proportionately smaller heads and brains than adults, and are exposed to the same level of radiation as adults when using cell phones. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average radio frequency (RF) energy from mobile phones is twice as high in a child's brain than an adult's and 10 times higher in the skull's bone marrow. Hearing loss or ringing in the ears and headaches are associated with cell phone usage in teens and children; DOH warns that long-term cell phone use may be linked to brain cancer, tumors of the acoustic nerve, lower sperm counts and learning and memory issues.
To safeguard against potential health risks, the DOH provides a list of precautions to limit radiation exposure, including:
- Texting rather than talking
- Using a speakerphone or Bluetooth or wired headsets
- Carrying the phone in a purse, bag, briefcase. Not in a pocket, bra or belt.
- Keeping the phone away from the bed at night, at an arm's length distance.
Smartphones have certainly changed the way we live. However, having your child unplug from electronics and encouraging face-to-face communication can help develop essential social skills, reduce physical toll on the body (i.e. text neck), promote well needed sleep and mitigate radiation risk. (A good piece of advice for adults as well!)