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What Europeans Know About Cell Phone Safety

Should cell phones be banned from children?

The Parliamentary Assembly in Europe concluded on May 6th—after an in-depth examination of evidence—that cell phones and Wi-Fi should be banned in schools. Why? Because of their “potentially harmful” effects on humans…especially “little” humans. And in breaking news today, the World Health Organization is now labeling mobile phones a “carcinogenic hazard”—like lead and chloroform.

Children are always the most vulnerable victims of environmental pollution. For instance, because of their size, they absorb 50 percent more air pollution than adults. When it comes to EMFs, studies have shown that their inner skulls and bones allow them to absorb twice the amount of radiation as an adult. EMFs can more deeply penetrate their brain tissue, which is more conductive than an adult’s because it contains a higher concentration of fluid and ions. One study found that a cell phone call lasting only two minutes causes brain hyperactivity that persists for an hour in children.

Because they’re growing 24/7, children’s cells are dividing at breakneck speed. The more cells that divide, the greater the risk for damage at critical junctures. EMFs can cause breaks in the blood-brain barrier, which is more permeable in children. That breach can allow toxins to travel to the brain through the bloodstream and can result in oxidative stress, damage to nerve tissue, and adverse effects to brain hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

What can you do to keep your children safe?

Curb kids’ cell phone use. Europeans aren’t the only ones taking measures to keep kids away from cell phones. In Russia, scientists and government officials have advised that anyone under the age of eighteen should not use one. In France, there’s a ban against marketing mobile phones to young children. In the United Kingdom, Sir William Stewart, chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board, was quoted as saying “I don’t think we can put our hands on our hearts and say mobile phones are safe.” In the United States? Not much…yet.

In an ideal world, you would never buy your child a cell phone. But if you did that you might never hear the end of it because all their friends now own them. Besides, in our two-career families, those cell phones equate to peace of mind. But since you’re the parent, you can set the rules for cell phone use.

First, do not buy preschoolers cell phones. It is far too dangerous a device to put into their hands—and especially for them to put up to their ears.

Brain cancer is now the number one cancer killer in children, having surpassed leukemia. In just one decade, Australia has reported an increase of 20% in pediatric brain cancers. Over the last 20 years in the UK and Europe, there has been a 40% brain tumor increase reported. Clearly, this is an issue we need to start taking more seriously.

There are studies suggesting that—in addition to brain tumors—children’s cell phone use could result in hearing loss (if they use it an hour a day or more) and the death of auditory nerve cells. One Indian study found that cell phone users who were on the phone for sixty minutes a day over four years experienced damage to the DNA in roughly 40 percent of their cells.

If you absolutely must equip your little one, look for phones without dial pads. Those will have buttons that you can program to speed dial emergency numbers only. And insist they be carried in shielded cases.

Cell phones are just as dangerous for your tweens and teens as they are for your preschoolers. But now, peer pressure really kicks in. As long as parents are paying for cell use, however, you have the power of the purse. Parents of both preteens and adolescents need to establish clear guidelines as to their cell phone use, while understanding your kids’ need for independence. Your children will be even safer if they obey these rules.

• Text rather than call.
• Use a safe headset—not Bluetooth or wired. I recommend using the air-tube headset, which I have sent to all of my family members.
• No phoning or texting while driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that teen drivers on cell phones have slower reaction times than teens not on the phone while behind the wheel.
• Keep phones out of the bedroom. Many teens already have sleep problems, and a constantly beeping or buzzing phone—and friends just a text message away—won’t help.
• Teach kids to keep phones away from the body while they’re turned on. Those incoming calls and texts cause a burst of RF emissions that can penetrate the body, so have them stash the phone in a purse or backpack.

Finally, the more you can do to set a good example with your own cell phone, the better. For example, when you make calls on your landline at home, your kids are more likely to follow suit. Replacing cordless phones (especially the more powerful DECT models) with a landline may be the very best thing you can do to reduce your family’s total microwave exposure in the home.

Find the balance between safety and necessity to keep yourself and your family safe.

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