Toddlers and Tablets, Cell Phones: how safe are they?

Toddlers and Tablets, Cell Phones - how safe are they

Guest Post by Harry Gardiner

Whether it’s your toddler making grabby hands whenever your cell phone comes out or constant new releases and contract renewals creating hand-me-downs, phones and tablets can end up in the hands of the youngest members of the family.

That these devices distract our children and keep them absorbed can seem like a blessing in rushed and harried moments, on long journeys, at grocery stores, or when just trying to get that last little bit of work done. Sticking a digital pacifier in a child’s hands leads to a vague sense of guilt. Maybe less so if you download a few kids’ apps.

That guilt is backed up by warnings from organizations such as The American Institute of Pediatrics to limit or entirely restrict children’s use of and exposure to screens and digital devices. Their guidance says that up to the age of two it is recommended that children not use such devices at all. After that age a sliding scale says three to five year olds should be limited to one hour a day.

This makes no allowance for the activity. Playing any of the rising numbers of educational games aimed at pre-schoolers or watching movies are treated the same – the emphasis is on the developmental and physical risk.

Cell phones and tablets with wireless or mobile network interactivity emit an electromagnetic field, particularly when sending and receiving data. Many studies document the effect this electromagnetic radiation has on adults. A lot of those studies are already several years old and the use of cell phones along with their features and capabilities is increasing in leaps and bounds. Before 2010 and the arrival of the iPad few people would have imagined mobile devices being in so many homes and in the hands of so many young children.

The metrics and guidelines have been far outpaced by the technology they attempt to measure and regulate. The standard test for the absorption of cell phone radiation into the body and deciding what devices are safe has not changed since the 1980s, when the world was a very different technological place. The dimensions of an 11lb head are used to check to what extent and level radiation penetrates the body. An 11lb head belongs to the body of a 220lb, 6’2” man. Not only is that physical description far removed from many cell phone users it is totally inadequate in testing the effects of radiation on children.

Not only is a child’s head much smaller than the model used to test levels of radiation, their bodies are still developing. Young children have thinner skulls and more fluid around their brain. These variables are not accounted for by official safety guidance and contribute to children absorbing ten times more radiation than adults, likely to be even more for toddlers.

When increasing evidence shows cell phones are a risk to parents’ health the potential impact for toddlers is even more worrying. Their bodies and minds are still developing and are headed into a brave new world of technology we can hardly imagine… and the effects of which we are only just beginning to understand.


Harry Gardiner


Not a sponsored post. Guest post. Photo credit: Wave Wall Cases, stock