Cellphones and Kids
Like television and computer games, cellphones can be a monumental waste of time for children. Endless hours of yakking to friends means hours not spent doing something more worthwhile.
But now there is a new reason for parents to be concerned about their children's cellphone use.
Some preliminary studies suggest that people who use cellphones for long periods are at greater risk of developing brain tumours. And children, with their thinner skulls and developing nervous systems, may be at greater risk than adults. Furthermore, because children today have begun using cellphones at an earlier age than previous generations, their exposure will be far greater over their lifetimes.
The cellphone industry hotly disputes these findings. But the Toronto Board of Health is taking a precautionary stand and urging parents to limit their children's use of cellphones to essential purposes, to restrict the length of their calls and to have them use headsets.
Similar warnings have already been issued in several European countries and Russia.
"It's an educational process," Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's medical officer of health, said in an interview. "Parents need to have the information and make up their own minds."
But out of sight is out of mind as far as young cellphone users are concerned. In today's youth market, it's cool to be armed with a cellphone. What may not be so cool is turning it off.
There is, however, another option for tech-savvy young people. Text messaging is reportedly a safe alternative. As an added bonus, most parents don't know how to use it.