Cell phone use has quickly become the societal norm for people of all ages to stay connected to one another and the rest of the world. Many of us have become so dependent upon them that it has become more common to see a bus filled with people all looking down at their phones rather than a bus filled with people communicating with one another. As troubling as this trend may be in general, it seems to be increasingly troublesome for the world’s younger generations who are now getting “connected” at even younger ages.
A study conducted by the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), which included over 20,000 children/ teens between grades 3 and 12, concluded that approximately 20% of grade 3 students already owned a cell phone. The numbers steadily rose from that point forward to approximately 25% in grade 4, 39% in grade 5 and 83% in middle school.
As wonderful as cell phones can be for both connectivity and as a safety tool for children in case of an emergency, the side effects seem to heavily outweigh these benefits -especially since most children make them a part of their regular life. The dangers of cell phone use gained a lot of mainstream credibility in 2011 when the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that cell phone radiation may cause cancer. The statement was based off of a cumulative decision made by a team of 31 scientists, from 14 different countries, after reviewing evidence that suggested this to be the case.
The most conclusive evidence thus far however seems to have come from Sweden where the Hardell Group, in association with the International Interphone Study, have found a consistent pattern of increased brain tumors associated with mobile phone use. Unlike many other studies conducted on the subject matter, that which has been conducted by the Hardell Group spans over the course of 10 years allowing for a better understanding of the long-term effects of the devices. Professor Lennart Hardell himself, while speaking at a conference held at the Royal Society by the Radiation Research Trust, revealed that there was a five-fold increase in glioma within people who started to use mobile phones prior to the age of 20.
Glioma, for those that are unfamiliar with the term, is a tumor that begins in the brain or spinal cord, and is the most common form of brain tumour.
The reason why children and teens seem to be more at risk lies within the fact that unlike adults, their brain and nervous systems are still developing, and in this state are far more susceptible to troubling behaviour caused by cellular devices. Children in particular have been identified as being the greatest at risk because they have smaller brains, a lower skull bone density, a less effective blood brain barrier and more connective tissue making them capable of absorbing up to 3 times as much radiation as an adult.
As troubling as these findings may be, there are steps that we can take to help minimize the impact that cell phones can have on all of us, no matter our age. Aside from perhaps holding back on giving our children access to cell phones at such a young age, informing them of the dangers associated with their use is always a great first step. The same can be said for informing your friends and family of all ages, making sure they are made aware of how hazardous their favorite device can be, especially if heavily used and depended upon. Several helpful precautions are discussed in this article that we released in 2013, including dietary choices, technological devices and even alternative protection that are all readily available to be implemented. Check them out, and be sure to share your thoughts on cell phone use via the comment section below.