Fredericksburg Parent

October 2012

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family values Cell Phones or Shoelaces BY ELAINE STONE Kids have overtaken the world of cell phones. What once was a connected home utility has become the most mobile. It once was solely a means of communication, but has become usable for everything from business to entertainment. They have invaded every moment of our lives. As parents who didn't grow up with these hand-held boxes of communication, what is there to consider about cell phones and our children? L ook around a store, restaurant or even a playground and you will see it: kids on cellphones. Cell phone owners are getting younger. According to a new study, 83 percent of middle schoolers, 39 percent of fifth-graders, and 20 percent of third- graders have a mobile device. High schoolers place in the 90th percentile and kindergartners are around the tenth. It is wise for parents to weigh this option and not just allow the popular flow of technology to wind up in the hands of their children. Long-Term Health Concerns. The starting point is the health debate regarding cell phone usage. Cell phones give off "microwave" like radiation. The closer the phone is held to the head/ear the greater the radiation. The problem with defining the risks is that studies have simply not had decades to measure its effects. "Children and likely than adults to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, according to a recent study done in Sweden. Five times. Why are kids so much more susceptible? 'The skull of a child is thinner than that of an adult,' pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson explains. 'This theoretically allows for easier penetration of electromagnetic waves from a cell phone held up to the ear. And because a child's brain is developing (as opposed to an adult brain, which is much more static), many believe that the cells in a child's brain are more susceptible to damage.'" Pediatrician Dr. Cara teenagers are five times more bottom line whether cell phones -- when held up to the ear -- generate enough radiation to cause tumors over time. But no one knows that they don't. And because there are simple things you can do to minimize your exposure, it is silly not to do them. Almost every here is that no one knows for 20 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • October 2012 Natterson continues: "The sure neurosurgeon recommends wearing a wired earpiece rather than holding the phone to your head. Most caution against a wireless Bluetooth ear piece, these place an antenna in your ear." Dr. Natterson says the FDA, the American Cancer Society, and a series of researchers in the U.S. contend that there is no data proving that cell phones cause cancer. But most of these studies are only three to ten years in duration. "Most neurosurgeons and brain tumor experts agree develops over a much longer time frame, up to 20 or 25 years," she says. "Unfortunately, the studies are too short." Proving something as fact in the US means data must be replicated, association once, is not enough. that brain cancer proving diseases like brain cancer, which are evolving, takes many years/generations. Thus, if there may be a connection, precautions should be taken while research is being conducted. Children today will have a lifetime of cell phone usage. It makes common sense that, unlike their parents, they will be exposed to far more electromagnetic radiation. Cell Phones are not going away. It is silly to think technology would It makes sense scientifically, however, slow choices: When children will start using them and how they will be used. Make informed decisions, as parents, as to when this piece of technology is necessary for your child. It can certainly be used at a young age, but are the risks worth the regress. So, parents have a few that once a child has a cell, lacking strict control, it will be utilized more and more with each passing convenience. Realize "How" is just as important as "when." Doctors recommend using an earpiece of holding the phone to the ear (not a Bluetooth variety). Some cell phone manufacturers even include in the instruction manual to hold the phone 1/8 inch from the ear. How often do you see that happen? Speakerphone is a good viable option for children. It may limit its usage somewhat, but is far instead Also, experts suggest a contract written by parents and signed by children outlining phone usage. This contract includes punishments for violations and the right to cancel the cell phone, if rules are disobeyed. This is a "user's license" not unlike a driver's license. A responsible parent would never just hand safer.

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