Effects of Mobile Phones on Children’s Health

Dr. Faisal Khan, MBBS, SMLE, MPH, MCPS, MRCPCH-UK (Scholar), Al-Dar Hospital Madina Munawara, Saudi Arabia.

Children are not fully-grown yet, and they are just little adults, their growing minds and bodies make them uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the environment around them, including all types of radiations generated by mobile phones, iPads, tablets, smart phones and all other kinds of wireless devices. Because in new era, technology is being adopted by children at younger ages than ever before.

There are different types of radiations generated by mobile phones and wireless devices, microwave radiations, ionizing and non-ionizing radiations. Ionizing radiation for example x-rays, radon, ultra violet rays in sunlight all are high frequency, and high energy. Non-ionizing is low frequency and low energy radiation. Cell phones have non-ionizing radiation. Mobile phones send radio frequency waves from its transmitting unit or antenna to nearby cell towers. When we make or receive a call, text, or use data, our phone receives radio frequency waves to its antenna from cell towers.

The potential harm from microwave radiations given off by cell phones and other wireless devices, particularly for children and unborn babies. Many researches proved that, children and unborn babies do face a greater risk for bodily damage that results from microwave radiations given off by wireless devices. The rate of microwave radiations absorption is higher in children than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner, and their relative size is smaller. Fetuses are particularly more vulnerable, because microwave radiations exposure can lead to degeneration of the protective sheath that surrounds brain neurons.

According to a recent research the brain tissue of children absorbed about two times more microwave radiations than that of adults, and other studies have reported that the bone marrow of children absorbs 10 times more microwave radiations than that of adults. Belgium, France, Germany, and other technologically sophisticated governments are passing laws or issuing warnings about children’s use of wireless devices. They also legislated that smartphone makers specify the minimum distance from the body that their products must be kept so that legal limits for exposure to microwave radiations aren’t exceeded. For iPads, laptop computers and tablets the minimum distance from the device to body is 20 cm (about 8 inches).

There are many potential health risks to mental and physical well-being related to overuse of cell phones, especially low IQ & improper mental growth in children, sleep deprivation, brain tumors and psychiatric diseases are hot-button issues. I admit still studies related to radiations generated by mobile phones have been inconsistent and results have been conflicting. These wireless devices are now part of our everyday life, but they can be used in a manner that is safe enough, the most important point is the distance, holding a cell phone few inches away from our ear “provides a thousand times reduction in risk.

Unless a cell phone is turned off, it is always radiating, so when not in use, it should not be kept on the body. The best place to keep a cell phone is somewhere like a pouch, purse, bag, or backpack. These devices should be kept away from a pregnant woman’s abdomen, and a mother should not use a cell phone while breastfeeding and nursing, and baby monitors should not be placed in an infant’s crib. Children and teen agers need to know how to use mobile phones and wireless devices safely. Cell phones should not be permitted in children’s bedroom at all.

Can cell phones cause cancer? In fact, there are solid grounds to believe it really is so. The cause for that is radiofrequency of electromagnetic fields given off by wireless and mobile devices. They have an adverse effect on our body, special on growing skulls of kids, toddlers and teenagers, so it can trigger the development of brain cancer in the future. According to a recent research conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, excessive use of mobile phones may lead to the formation of such brain tumors as glioma and acoustic neuroma. First and foremost, this is an issue for those adults and children who are virtually glued to their cell phones.

The pew research center has reported, that 75% of preteens and early teens keep all day their cell phones in their front pant pockets, which is way harmful for their reproductive health. Boys should not keep their cell phone in their front pants pockets. There is a potential harm to sperms, and girls should not place their cell phone in their bras. This recommendation was based on case study of 4 young women with a history of keeping their cell phones in or near their bras, and who developed breast cancer.

It’s obvious, that more radiations are absorbed with more hours of use, so children should be taught to use their mobile phone as little as possible. Landlines, skype, and computer phone services, when connected to the internet with a cable, don’t give off radiations, so parents should encourage their kids to use those. Moreover, wi-fi routers in the home should be placed away from where people, particularly children, spend the most of time.

Good health is above wealth, but majority of us undermine their personal health, and becoming more careless about their children’s mental and physical state day by day, caused by using of cell phones so excessively. A recent survey found out that 92% of world population have mobile phones today. 31% of them admit they never turn off their mobile phones. More than 90% of parents provide their kids cell phones, so they can easily keep in touch whenever they want to. All of this gives sufficient ground to talk about a cell phone addiction, specially about the possible dangers of cell phones on children’s health.

Cell phone overuse has many seriously bad side effects on children’s health primarily and adult’s health generally. We strive to be constantly connected and available. This makes us feel tired, nervous, and absent-minded. We hardly realize that a cause for our tiredness and fatigue is hidden in our pocket. It’s high time to determine some more about the negative influence of mobile phones and other wireless technologies. From time to time, many children and some adults have a feeling that their cell phone is vibrating in their pockets when actually it’s not.

They check it immediately and see that it was a false alarm. This situation is called a phantom pocket vibration syndrome. A study done by Dr. Michelle Drouin found that 89% of teenagers had experienced this type of sensation. This especially relates to the teenagers and undergraduates having a social media addiction. They are more anxious and nervous. Missing another text message from other side feels like a real tragedy to them. Reducing overall use of mobile phone, and shutting off cell phone’s vibration is a good way to combat and to deal with this syndrome.

When texting someone or reading an article on the Internet, we all have to stare at a small-sized screen of our cell phone. That can put a lot of strain on kids’ eyes, they can dry out and hurt when blinking. Eventually, this may result in visual deterioration. To maintain clear sight, need to keep device at least 12 to 16 inches away from the face. When talking about cell phones and health, we cannot ignore their influence on sleeping habits.

Most of us and some of our children even, get used to set the alarm and put a cell phone somewhere not far from the head or even under their pillow. In fact, it’s a bad idea. As we’ve mentioned before, microwave radiation transmitted by a cell phone is harmful to a brain specially kid’s brain. Having a mobile device at hand can also end up with insomnia in children. They’ll feel tempted to check it at night. They won’t be able to sleep properly because of its vibrating and beeping. It caused sleep deprivation, which can lead to serious mental health problems in children less than age of 19 years.

A healthy spine is one of the key factors of well-being during growing age. When our kids slouching over a cell phone for most of hours daily, they ruin their neck and back muscles. So, no wonder they feel the nagging pain in these parts of their bodies. But wait, there’s more. Pain, strain and aching neck muscles can cause a severe headache to make things worse. So eventually, they’ll feel like a wreck. To keep our children health, it’s time to decide, that we should not allow our kids to overuse cell phones and other wireless devices.