May 29, 2008

Use a cell phone, kill a baby

You may have heard of a study done recently showing a link between pregnant women using cell phones and behavior problems in their children--or as some articles put it, "Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby" (thank you, BBC). This has spurred a great deal of controversy and discussion among the people I controvert and discuss with. I, for one, believe this 100%, and not because I'm an expert on radioactive ions, but because I work at Disneyland.

Article excerpts:
"A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age...
...They found that mothers who did use the handsets were 54 per cent more likely to have children with behavioural problems and that the likelihood increased with the amount of potential exposure to the radiation. And when the children also later used the phones they were, overall, 80 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behaviour. They were 25 per cent more at risk from emotional problems, 34 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers, 35 per cent more likely to be hyperactive, and 49 per cent more prone to problems with conduct."


The article goes on to be completely noncommital about actual cause and effect, though they do bring in some radiation experts to assure us that cell phones are indeed safe. Well as I said, I believe that cell phones do play a big factor in children's behavior, but it has nothing to do with radiation exposure.

Mothers who are constantly on the phone are not paying attention to their children. I have seen these people. You have too. They're everywhere--holding up the register line, shouting loudly, sitting in the left-hand turn lane. People with cell phones seem to think that once they activate the phone and start talking into it, the rest of the world disappears. Nobody else is important, not even the sales associate (that would be me) trying to ring your damn purchase. Not even your own child.

I say that these children have behavior issues because 1) they're being ignored, 2) they're being taught that it's okay to be selfish and inconsiderate if you have a phone on your ear, and 3) there's no need to wait for an appropriate time to have a conversation or get what you want--you just do it right there while other people wait. I can't even tell you the number of mothers in my store whose children are running around wild and gee, it would be nice if Mom disciplined them, but she's busy chatting on the phone.

If a parent goes up to check out at the register (where I often find myself), rather than putting the phone down (or not initiating a call--yes, I have people who wait until they get to me to dial the phone) they ignore whatever I have to say and just chat to whomever is on the line. What is this teaching your children? It's teaching them that they don't need to be courteous to store employees. It's teaching them that it doesn't matter if you want to hold up the whole damn line because you are there and can take as much selfish time as you want. It's teaching them that no, they really don't need to wait 3 minutes to talk to someone, as it's perfectly acceptable to just do it now.

Looking again at the study results, none of us should be surprised. "They were 25 per cent more at risk from emotional problems," Yes, children whose parents can't be bothered to get off the damned phone and attend to their needs would tend to develop more emotional problems, I'd say. "... 34 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers," absolutely! They are being taught that proper face-to-face interaction involves ignoring any actual person in front of you and just talking on the phone. While speaking on the phone may help verbal development, it's kind of the antithesis of social development. "...35 per cent more likely to be hyperactive, and 49 per cent more prone to problems with conduct," as in they just can't wait to get what they want? They're too antsy and have no patience? They demand attention? Gee, I wonder where they're learning this?

The article does give this a hat tip:
"They add that there might be other possible explanations that they did not examine – such as that mothers who used the phones frequently might pay less attention to their children – and stress that the results "should be interpreted with caution" and checked by further studies. But they conclude that 'if they are real they would have major public health implications'."

But seriously--anyone who deals with the public on a regular basis and sees parents interact with children shouldn't be in the least bit surprised by this finding, nor should they be the least bit concerned with radiation.

Posted by Shelby at May 29, 2008 10:40 PM

I've seen parents change diapers, calm crying children, and talk to their kids teachers without putting down the cell phone! How can you have any real idea what's going on with your kid if you are on the phone the WHOLE time? I completely agree, Shelby!

Posted by: Sherri at May 30, 2008 02:14 PM
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