I’ve heard other moms say it: “My daughter will pitch a fit if she sees my smartphone.”
I’ve seen other moms do it – hand their smartphone to their child to keep them entertained.
I’ve done it. I’ll play Mickey Mouse Clubhouse via Netflix when I absolutely need my toddler to stay still (ie at the mechanic waiting room or doctor’s office).
Does this worry me?
Not only do I worry about my childrens’ generation being hooked on wireless devices as a means of entertainment, I worry about the possible negative health consequences.
And no, I’m not referring to obesity.
I’m talking about the microwave radiation (MWR) that is emitted from these devices, those smartphone dangers.
Why you should (or shouldn’t) be worried about MWR
While most people are aware of the radiation that is emitted from X-rays and CT scans, few realize that many other devices give off frequencies that cause us to be exposed to small amounts of radiation. And, if you know about X-ray radiation exposure, you know that exposure is stacked up over time. The more times you’re exposed, the greater your chances for tissue or DNA damage.
However, MWR radiation is categorized as non-ionizing radiation and is considered less harmful. Because of that, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t regulate this type of radiation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, states on its website that they “have the authority to take action if cell phones are shown to emit radiofrequency (RF) energy at a level that is hazardous to the user” and the “FDA shares regulatory responsibilities for cell phones with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).” According to the site, “FCC certifies wireless devices, and all phones that are sold in the United States must comply with FCC guidelines on RF exposure.”
What does this mean for your kids (and you)
Since the FDA is closely working with the FCC on this RF exposure issue, you should be just as watchful.
According to WebMD, manufacturers of devices “specify the minimum distance from the body that their product must be kept so that legal limits for exposure to MWR aren’t exceeded.” Plus, the article states that “multiple studies have shown children absorb more MWR than adults.”
Exactly what will happen to a child that’s been overexposed to MWR is currently still being studied and heavily debated. Some studies try to link exposure to brain tumors and even cancer. It could be years before we know for sure what all this smartphone exposure will do to this generation of growing children. After all, the first smartphone as we know them today (with a touch screen) was created by Apple in 2007 – just 8 years ago.
What you need to know (as mom) about your smartphone
Do you know what SAR is?
It stands for Specific Absorption rate and cell phone makers must provide this information to its users. However, according to CNET, finding that information can be difficult.
And honestly, I don’t even know what the SAR is for my current Windows phone, so I’m pretty sure many other parents don’t know that information about their phones either.
But what’s alarming is that while the cell phone maker might meet the FCC guidelines for SAR, the maker specifies under which circumstances the test is met. Thus, unless you’re using the device exactly how they tested it for safety, you could be exposing yourself to more RF than you should be. (Read the section Distance matters on this CNET article for examples.)
Things you can do to reduce your (and your kids) exposure to MWR
Taking everything into considering, here is a list of several things that we should be doing as parents to teach our children how to safely operate cell phone devices:
- Use the speakerphone setting or a headset while making calls. This keeps the phone at a farther distance from your body, limiting your exposure. (You can also purchase a device called The Cell Spacer that is designed to keep your phone at a safe distance away from your head.)
- Don’t keep your phone on your body (err, your front or back pocket). Instead, carry it in your purse or diaper bag.
- When pregnant, avoid placing the phone near your belly.
- Since your children are smaller and have thinner skulls, take extra precautions around them. (For me, this means not allowing my kids to use my phone on a daily basis. I’ve never allowed them to play games on my phone for other reasons, but now that I know this information, I’ll continue to do the same. Also, don’t forget about how your kids use their tablet devices.)
- Don’t keep your cell phone turned on under your pillow. (I always turn my cell phone off at night and keep it on my nightstand. As long as it’s off, it can’t emit anything.)
Overall, I think the most important take away from this should be that we need to limit our overall smartphone use in general. If you won’t do it for other reasons, maybe now you’ll want to do it for health reasons. I’m not going to wait for the FDA to tell me that using my phone too much isn’t safe or worse – that my kids shouldn’t be using them period. After all, the FDA sometimes approves prescription drugs that haven’t really been tested to be safe over long periods of time, so I’m not going to put 100% faith into their ability to catch a potential threat to my health before it’s too late.
Are you concerned about your kids using your smartphone or other device that emits radiation?