A cellphone is not a toy, and research suggests keeping it away from young children.
Photo by fotolia.comBy Sue Hubbard, M.D.
A study by the National Toxicology Program exposed rats to radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years beginning in utero. Researchers compared these rats to those that were not exposed and, interestingly, some of the male rats developed tumors in their hearts and brains. The controls did not.
I am writing about this as another deterrent to giving children cell phones at an early age and for not having a home phone. While it is too early to say if this study has any bearing on humans, and obviously the exposure was heavier than normal, this may serve as another deterrent to giving children a cellphone at a young age. It may also help to bring "land lines" back into the home.
Call me old school, but I continue to believe having a home phone is still important. Without a home phone, how can you call your child when you are away and they may be home with a babysitter and not depend on the caregiver's cellphone? I also think that some children may be ready to stay at home for 30 minutes to an hour at a time while their parents go to the store or pick up a sibling from school before they are ready for a cellphone. By having a home phone the child has a means of contacting parents, neighbors or emergency personnel. By having a home phone, the child also doesn't risk losing a cellphone and doesn't have to deal with any of the other numerous issues associated with owning a cellphone.
A home phone also gives children an opportunity to learn how to answer a phone, how to "screen" phone calls for the family and how to perfect phone etiquette. What about the days when we were taught to say, "Hello? Hubbard residence," when answering the phone? Or having your mother sit by your side while you called a friend's house and started off the conversation with, "May I please speak to Sally?" Phone etiquette was such an important part of every child's life.
Once your child does have a cellphone, it also seems that they may spend more time isolated from the family and may spend longer amounts of time on the phone than when the phone was in the family kitchen. Even my grown children often go outside to take their cellphone calls.
The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents should limit the use of cell phones by children and teens. A cellphone is not a toy. It emits radiation. Keeping this source of radiation away from our children for as long as possible seems prudent while more research continues. And the aforementioned study just gives parents a bit more ammunition when their 6-year-old starts off with, "Everyone else has a cellphone. When can I have one?"
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at hoti://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid's Doctor e-book, "Tattoos to Tenting: Parenting Today's Teen," is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.
Printed in the September 4, 2016 - September 17, 2016 edition.