A Bad Mix – Cell Phones and Children?

Do you remember a time when most people on the roads just drove their car? Let me be more explicit. Do you remember a time when the main activities drivers engaged in were talking to a passenger, singing, and eating or drinking something?

Today it’s not often that I simply see someone driving; a good third or so of the people are talking on their cell phones. Now I realize that my percentage is far from accurate data but the fact that a large number of people talk (via cell) and drive is common knowledge.

Of course the prominence of cell phones goes beyond the streets. You can find cell phones attached to ears everywhere. Little is sacred now; once that little phone rings a quick “excuse me” is the standard protocol. Sometimes I wonder if society is addicted; after all, people seem to take their phones everywhere, even when they are in the company of others. I see it when I walk my son around the neighborhood, other walkers and their cell phones. I’ve been out to eat with acquaintances that interrupt our dinner for their daily touch-base with their aunt. I’ve even accidentally responded to strangers in the grocery store who were looking my way, saying something, yet talking on those headset devices.

The good news for our cell-crazed culture is that a German study recently announced that their decade’s long study found that cell phones were safe for adults. Of course there were caveats: they cannot make conclusions based on more than 10 years of cell phone usage and some cellular activity did change while being “under the influence” of mobile/cell phone radiation. (According to the article, even this information did not dissuade the survey from concluding that cell phones were safe.)

So, the good news is that, as of now, we can continue being a country obsessed with cell phones.

I think it’s important to note though that the study could not make any safety statements regarding children and cell phone usage. Therefore, since there is not evidence one way or another they suggest that children do not use mobile phones.

Although most kids probably aren’t concerned about how healthy it is to use cell phones, as their parents, we have to be. And since having a cell phone is starting to become “the thing” at earlier and earlier ages, we need to pay extra attention to future studies that focus on this population and cell phone exposure. It may just be that we have to tone down our usage of cell phones in order to keep our kids from becoming too eager to start acting like adults at the expense of their health. The question is: could we do it?


Tuffs, A. (2008). Mobile phones do not pose health risk, German survey shows. BMJ, 336(7659), 1461-1461. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a545

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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