Are Cell Phones Dangerous for Kids?

Kids are using cell phones more and more at younger and younger ages. This brings plenty of new opportunities and conveniences, but also brings new dangers. Not only are children using social media more and venturing deeper into the Internet, but the materials and radiation of cell phones can be physically harmful. Read along to learn how to keep up with the times protect your child from the invisible health hazards of cell phones.

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New Technology, New Concerns

By Lori Calabrese

If you've marveled at your cell phone whiz sending a text in less than five seconds, you've probably also wondered, are cell phones dangerous? Almost a quarter of children ages 6 through 9 have cell phones, which raises concern over their risks—not just privacy concerns and exposure to media, but to their physical health.

The Research

In a study completed by and, every cell phone tested contained levels of lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These substances are known to be hazardous to our health, and some can cause neurological impairment in children, infants and fetuses, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Cell phones are important today, but with the concerns over health issues, how can we help kids get the most out of this technology and sidestep some of the issues?

Put it on Hold

Ask yourself, does my child really need a cell phone? Every family situation is different, so think about what's best for her safety. Yes, giving a cell phone to a kid for emergencies can prove useful, but if you drop off and pick up your kid at school every day, is it really worth the risk?

Avoid Enclosed Areas

Tell your child to avoid her cell phone while in a vehicle, on a train, bus, plane or subway. Tight areas like these trap radiation and can increase exposure to radiation. Since it's also harder to maintain a signal in these spaces, her cell phone uses more power to stay connected.

Buy New

According to the joint study, newer phones are less toxic than older versions, so when possible, buy new. Old analog phones emit continuous waves, compared to digital ones that emit radiation in pulses.

Keep it Away From the Baby

Babies are enthralled with technology just as much as adults, but when she's getting fussy, avoid the urge to give her your cell to keep her busy. If you must, make sure you turn it off. That way she won't risk exposure to radiation.

Minimize Usage

"Establish no-phone zones—like during class, at the dinner table or after 9 p.m.," says Jim Steyer, author of Talking Back to Facebook and CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. By laying down some rules about when your child is allowed to use her cell phone, you can kill two birds with one stone. She’ll absorb less radiation and avoid an unhealthy dependency on cell phone games, social media and texting.

Keep Phone Away From Body

Even when she's not using her phone, teach your phone addict to keep it off or as far away from her body as possible. Don't use belts, buckles or even pockets to hold the phone, as it's possible for radiation to penetrate her body wherever the phone is attached. Instead, encourage using a headset or speaker phone, so the cell is farther from her ear.

Use the Landline

Introduce your phone whiz to that ancient piece of equipment, the landline phone. This still gives your technology-savvy kid the freedom to speak to friends, but it avoids eating up minutes and having a cell phone close to her body.

Encourage Texting

Wait, encourage texting? Yes! Although you're probably trying to get your texter to give those thumbs a rest, texting keeps the device away from her head. So instead of having her talk to her BFF for an hour on Friday night, let her text away. Just be sure you have unlimited texting on your plan.

Continue to Research

Though the debate over cell phone safety rages on, new studies are continuously released, so be sure to follow the news. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't have an official stance on kids' cell phone use, but continue to visit its site for any updated information that might prove to be useful.

Contact Your Local Legislator

Reach out to your local legislator and make a call for better cell phone standards. Stress the need for government to set rules for cell phone companies, and put warning labels on cell phones. Also request more research to study the long-term effects of cell phone use and children.

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