Cell Phones and Kids and Cancer, Oh My!

My son has a short Christmas list.  His is always short.  And with his birthday falling just before Christmas, it’s often a challenge to come up with a present that will put that magical smile on his face on Christmas morning.  The main thing on his list this year?  A cell phone.

At first I blew it off as ridiculous, but as I look around and see more and more kids his age with cell phones, I’m thinking, Well, why not. He can pay for his minutes out of his allowance; to add him to our family plan is really quite affordable.  And there actually have been a couple times in the past few months that I wanted to contact him and momentarily wished I had the ability to send him a quick text.  I even went so far as to wander into the Verizon store at the mall one day and inquire about it.

And then I read this: Health: A Cancer Muckraker Takes on Cell Phones.

As she began to look seriously into the field, Davis began to have doubts that cell phones were harmless. She found evidence of studies, some decades old, showing that the radio-frequency radiation used by cell phones could indeed have biological effects–enough to damage DNA and potentially contribute to brain tumors. She found that other countries—like France and Israel—had already acted, discouraging the use of cell phones by children and even putting warning signs on handsets. She found evidence of  increases in certain kinds of brain tumors among unusually young patients who were heavy users of cell phones.

Why don’t we hear more about this?  Well, surprise . . . it seems that independent research implicating cell phones and cancer, much like research on issues that challenge Big Pharma and the industrial food industry, have a way of getting swept under the table when the industry that is challenged doesn’t like the results.

Davis shows that independent studies on cell phone radiation found dangers at more than twice the rate of industry-funded studies—though because the cell phone industry is the source of much of the funding of cell phone studies, there are far more of the latter. And ultimately that is what is truly disturbing about Davis’s book. Time and again, she shows the way that industry has been able to twist science just enough to stave off the possibility of any regulation—and finds that researchers are afraid of challenging the status quo, lest they find themselves suddenly out of a job, denied the lifeblood of research money.

Davis recommends that adults minimize cell phone usage to minimize the potential risk, but she recommends that children avoid using phones altogether, as their thinner skulls can absorb higher levels of radiation.

I mentioned this to my husband, and he was aware of this research.  He habitually removes his phone from his belt holster at work and lays it on his desk so it’s not so close to his body all the time, although he agreed that it seems to be more of a concern for kids than for adults.

So, mamas.  What do you say? Do your kids have cell phones?  Are you aware of the potential dangers?  Do you feel this is serious enough to warrant concern?

I expect my son would do a lot more texting than talking, and perhaps it’s having it near the head that is the primary concern?  Or is having it at all an unnecessary risk?

Is there ANY MODERN INVENTION that is not slowly killing us?  Sheesh.

Naturally, we have more concerns about our 11-year-old owning a cell phone than just the possibility of dangerous radiation.  All you have to do is Google “kids and cell phones,” and you’ll have enough worry fodder to put you over the edge.

I suppose we will end up waiting on the cell phone.  According to this article on Tweens, only 10% of preteens have cell phones these days.  (Although in my neighborhood it’s more like 80%.)  Nevertheless, we are not usually on the front lines when it comes to handing our kids electronic devices, and I expect this will be no different.

But the fact of the matter is, we will face these issues soon.  If not this year, then probably the next.

How do you monitor cell phone use with your tweens and teens?

Not just in light of possible health concerns, but also as far as security issues, proper use, and even bullying/indecent photos/sexting . . .  GAH.  It’s enough to make me want to crawl under a rock until my kids are 18.

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