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The addiction
Cause and Consequences

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, smartphones and all other kinds of wireless devices. In the new era, the children are exposed to technology 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 radiations such as x-rays, radon, ultraviolet rays of sunlight all are high frequency, and high energy. Non-ionizing radiations are low in frequency and energy. Cell phones have non-ionizing radiations. Mobile phones send radio-frequency waves from its transmitting unit or antenna to nearby cell towers. When we make or receive a call, send or receive text, or use data, our phone receives radio-frequency waves to its antenna from cell towers.

Microwave radiations from the cell phones and other wireless devices are very harmful, particularly for children and unborn babies. Many researches have proved that, such radiations pose a greater risk for bodily damage in children and unborn babies. 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 the brain neurons.

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According to a recent research, the brain tissues of children absorb about two times more microwave radiations than that of adults, and other studies have reported that the bone marrow of children absorbs ten 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 least 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).

children using mobile phones

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. Till date, 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 teenagers 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 radio-frequency of electromagnetic fields given off by wireless and mobile devices. They have an adverse effect on our body, especially on growing skulls of kids, toddlers and teenagers, which 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 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.

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 inner wears. This recommendation was based on a case study of four young women with a history of keeping their cell phones in or near their inner wears, and who subsequently 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 phones as little as possible. Landlines, Skype, and computer phone services, when connected to the internet with a cable, don’t give off radiations, therefore the parents should encourage their kids to use those. Moreover, the Wi-Fi routers in the home should be placed away from where people, particularly children, spend most of their time.

Good health is above wealth, but majority of us undermine our personal health, and become more careless about our children’s mental and physical state day-by-day, caused by the excessive usage of cell phones. A recent survey found that 92% of world population has mobile phones today. Among which 31% admit that 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.

Why cell phones should be a complete ‘No’ to kids?

Cell phone overuse has many severely 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 more about the negative influences of mobile phones and other wireless technologies.

From time to time, many children and a few adults have a false feeling that their cell phone is vibrating in their pockets when it’s not. This situation is called a phantom pocket vibration syndrome. A study conducted by Dr. Michelle Drouin revealed 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 a text message from other side feels like a real tragedy to them. Reducing overall usage of mobile phones, 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. This 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, one needs to keep the device at least 12 to 16 inches away from the face.

While talking about cell phones and health, we cannot ignore their influence on the sleeping habits. Most of us including 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 very bad idea. As already mentioned, microwave radiations transmitted by a cell phone are harmful to a brain specially kid’s brains. 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 vibrations and beeps. This can cause sleep deprivation, which can lead to serious mental health problems in children less than 19 years of age.

A healthy spine is one of the key factors of well-being during growing age. When our kids are slouching over a cell phone for most hours daily, they ruin their neck and back muscles. So, no wonder they feel the nagging pain in these parts. 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 healthy, it’s time to decide, that we should not allow our kids to overuse cell phones and other wireless devices.

About the author

Dr. Faisal Khan is a MRCPCH-UK scholar. He also has SMLE, MPH, MCPS to his credit. He hails from Pakistan and is currently practicing in Al-Dar Hospital Madina Munawara, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

InnoHEALTH Magazine

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