It is a known fact that children are more vulnerable to damage from smartphones and that many children are using these devices.
Given those facts, what differences in adverse effects do we expect to see in children compared to adults?
Increased Risk of Brain Tumors
A 2007 study by Mild, Hardell & Carlberg examining the incidence of malignant brain tumours among thousands of cell phone users discovered that cell phone use increases the risk of forming malignant brain tumours. And that risk is increased over time from cell phone exposure and cumulative use.
The data in this study shows that those who began using cordless or cell phones by the age of 20 had a 400% increased risk of forming a brain tumour on the side of the head where they hold their phone.
Impaired Memory Development
A study on Adolescents' Memory Performance conducted in 2008 resulted in a link between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF'EMFs) and memory performance in teens.
The Swiss TPH team analyzed data from a large sample of nearly 700 Swiss teenagers. Researchers tracked EMF exposure and memory performance over a year to get a more detailed picture of how teens' brains were developing.
Finding that "cumulative RF-EMFs brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents."
Figural memory relates to your ability to remember abstract forms and is mainly located in the right brain hemisphere. An interesting find in this study was that teens who held their phones up to the right side of their heads had the most substantial memory deterioration.
This practice of using the cellphone suggests that RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for impaired memory development when EMF exposure to the head was most potent and most direct.
Increased Risk of Childhood Leukemia
Brain tumours aren't the only types of cancers linked to EMF radiation exposure, and of course, cell phones aren't the sole source of EMF radiation. Many other power lines and electrical wiring in your home can cause harmful exposure of EMF, such as AC, emitting a type of EMF called ELF (extremely low frequency).
The power lines that form our power grid also act as a massive, worldwide antenna that can pick up and conduct stray EMF from other devices like cell phones and Wi-fi.
When the power grid was initially created, it was installed in different parts of the USA at different times. Dr. Samuel Milham was able to show how increases in the death rate correlated with the commencement of electrification (power of electricity) and where it occurred in the country. He created the term "dirty electricity" for the EMF exposure and pointed it out as the source of significant health problems.
The trend of the appearance of childhood leukemia developing at a certain age was common in areas of the power grid. However, this peak did not exist in un-electrified regions.
Increased Incidence of ADHD
Over the past few years, an increasing number of studies have determined a strong correlation between ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and exposure to EMF radiation.
ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children's cognitive and behavioural activity.
A 2008 study on Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Cell Phone Use and Behavioral Problems in Children surveyed 1,300 children with behavioural problems. Those whose mothers reported cell phone use during pregnancy or cell phone use by their children earlier in their lives were 80% more likely to have symptoms of ADHD.
Since then, the evidence linking cell phone radiation to ADHD has expanded considerably. Researchers have concluded the following as a result of exposure to cell phone radiation:
"Symptoms of retarded memory, learning, cognition, attention, and behavioural problems have been reported in numerous studies. And are similarly manifested in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders."
Deteriorating Academic Performance
With unlimited evidence demonstrating the links between cell phone radiation and cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, and behavioural disorders, you would expect to see the impact on children's overall academic performance.
Not just because of the physiological and biological effects of cell phones – It's simply also just a massive distraction overall.
Studies show that students who use their cell phones and other devices for non-academic purposes during class lectures perform worse in end-of-term exams. But interestingly, students who didn't use their devices but keep them near still ended up with lower grades.
Several studies suggest that EMF emitted by mobile phones has effects on brain oscillatory responses during cognitive processing in children.
In other words, exposure to cell phone radiation showed an effect on children's brain function that were asked to perform auditory memory functions.
It's good to be aware of all these adverse effects that have been linked to cell phone radiation exposure in children.
Safety Standards and How they Ignore Children
Lastly, let's talk about cell phone safety standards and regulations.
In the United States and the rest of the world, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) uses a measurement called SAR (specific absorption rate) to regulate cell phone radiation. Meaning, cell phone radiation is regulated based on how much radiation you absorb when you use your phone.
But that's not entirely true. Cellphone radiation is not regulated based on how much you absorb, but how much is absorbed by a test dummy that approximates a 240-pound man.
But the vast majority of children do not weigh anywhere close to 240 pounds. The average weight of an 11-year-old is just 81.5 pounds, about 25% of a SAR dummy. The trial results run with the adult cases don't reflect the effect on children. The water content of children's brains is quite different than that of adults’ brains. Also, the skull's thickness in childhood is thinner, and the EMF signals easily pass through their skulls.
In conclusion, children are more vulnerable to health risks and damage from cell phone radiation. Also, cell phone regulations are fundamentally and entirely inadequate in protecting children from this damage.
Written by: Tina I Ureten MD, RDMS, RDCS