Dr. Weeks’ Comment: An electrical engineer I know told me years ago “I would rather let my 9 year old play with my chain saw than my cell phone.” Now the America Association of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions about letting infants and toddlers use cell phones. Never the first to defend kids, the AAP made this recommendation reluctantly. (They notoriously recommended AGAINST breastfeeding for many years in favor of infant formula and the financial support that opinion resulted in). But good for the AAP now to come out clearly stating that cell phones are dangerous for infants and toddlers. It would be better if they included all pediatric patients – age 0 to 18.
This is what the AAP says:
“How can we limit cell phone radiation for ourselves and our children?
The AAP reinforces its existing recommendations on limiting cell phone use for children and teenagers. The AAP also reminds parents that cell phones are not toys, and are not recommended for infants and toddlers to play with.
Cell phone safety tips for families:
- Use text messaging when possible, and use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits.
- When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from your head.
- Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
- Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers can’t guarantee that the amount of radiation you’re absorbing will be at a safe level.
- Do not talk on the phone or text while driving. This increases the risk of automobile crashes.
- Exercise caution when using a phone or texting while walking or performing other activities. “Distracted walking” injuries are also on the rise.
- If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
- Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work and the more radiation it gives off. It’s better to wait until you have a stronger signal before using your device.
- Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases.
- Remember that cell phones are not toys or teething item
Cell Phones are Distracting to Child Pedestrians
For the first time, a new study examines how cell phone usage distracts preadolescent children while crossing the street.
In “Effects of Cell Phone Distraction on Pediatric Pedestrian Injury Risk,” researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham used data from children aged 10 to 11 years in simulated road crossings in an interactive, virtual pedestrian environment. Distraction was only by cell phone conversation with a research assistant, not by other commonly used devices such as portable audio players or text messaging.
Results indicate that when distracted, children were less attentive to traffic, left less time between themselves and the next oncoming vehicle, and were involved in more collisions and near misses. While cell phones offer convenience and safety to families, the study authors indicate that pedestrians – especially children – are likely to be more distracted than adults, and should limit cell phone use while crossing the street.