Mobile Phone And Kids:
Helpful Or Harmful?
June 26, 2008
Ziyad is a nine year old boy who has had his own mobile phone for the
last three months. His mom gave it to him in order to keep track of his
movements while he is out of home with friends.
“If he is in the
house, I take the mobile away from him. But when he is away, I give it
to him. It is my way of making sure he is alright and communicating
with him when he is on his own,” said his mother.
“I like having
my own mobile phone, and I only wish mom would have let me pick a
better one," said Mohammed. "I want one of the more expensive ones
because the kids in school show off with what type of phone they have,”
Mohamed said he knows that his mom bought it to
check on him while he is away, but he admitted that he makes a few
phone calls to his friends as well.
Many kids like Mohammed use
mobile phones to exchange photos, music and SMS text messages. They
play games with them and sometimes use them more efficiently than
“My mother asks me to change the programming for
her or to find some lost pictures," said Waddah, a 10-year-old boy. "I
feel good that I can do this and she cannot. I know everything about my
phone and every time there is a new version I pester my mom to buy it
Most of the time, the children's mothers pay for the
phone expenses, which are usually calling cards and not phone line
bills. Mothers claim that the kids have a fixed budget, although some
of the kids admitted that they buy cards on their own if they have
“Mom thinks she knows how much I spend on the mobile
phone, but she is wrong. She gives me allowances and I save from it to
buy new covers, to download tunes or to buy calling cards and she
hardly notices,” confessed Ali, a 13-year-old boy who has had his
mobile phone for the last two years. His current phone is the third one
he's owned because he exchanged the others with friends or bought them
from the second-hand shops.
Nasser Abdullah, an owner of a video
game store on Al-Dhairy Street, said that most of the teenagers and
kids who come into his store have mobile phones and that most of them
use the phones “badly.” He mentioned that what they do the most is send
each other songs and video clips. “Sometimes they use them to chat with
their girlfriends,” he added, pointing out that these kids have a world
of their own when they are together and that its difficult to talk to
An expert’s warnings
While some experts
are warning of the physical and social effects of mobile phones, its
usage around the world had been dramatically increasing over the last
few years. However, what concerns these experts the most is the mobile
phone boom for children, and Yemeni children are no exception to the
One of the most controversial studies was published this
past February by a top Australian neurosurgeon, Dr. Vini Khurana. The
scientist claimed that to have found evidence that using handsets for
more than 10 years can double the risk of brain cancer. Khurana also
adds that risks from using the mobile phones have far broader public
health effects than asbestos and smoking, especially on children since
their brains are not fully developed and since they will have more
cumulative exposure than adults.
The study said that mobile
phone radiation could heat the side of the head or potentially
thermoelectrically interact with the brain, while Bluetooth devices and
"unshielded" headsets could convert the user's head into a potentially
self-harming antenna and cause a brain tumor later in life, on
preferred side for using the mobile phone.
in his study that the reason why the relationship between mobile phones
and brain tumors have not been proven yet is due to the fact that the
wide-spread use of mobiles has increased only recently and that these
tumors usually take several years to form. He added that he expects his
claims to be definitively proven in five to 10 years from now.
also urged governments worldwide to take immediate steps in reducing
radiation exposure from cell phones. France and Germany have both
warned their citizens about the excessive use of cell phones,
especially by children.
No final answer yet
the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no concrete proof yet
that mobile phones are damaging to health. However, WHO said that if
mobile phones do turn out to be damaging, then children will be at
greater risk because their brains and bodies are not fully developed.
2001, the U.S. National Cancer Institute said there was no increased
risk of brain tumors in cell phone users in comparison to non-users.
general, most reports on the subject recommended limiting the use of
mobile phones among children although there is an absence of explicit
scientific data confirming negative repercussions for them. According
to the WHO, this is because of the ethical and practical concerns that
limit or prevent experimental studies performed on children.
WHO also added that because of a much higher cumulative exposure than
today’s adults, children might be more vulnerable to any effects of
The Australian Centre for Radiofrequency
Bio-effects Research, partly funded by the Australian government, has
already confirmed in a study of 110 adults that mobile phones cause a
change in brain function by altering brainwaves known as alpha waves.
However, there was no indication whether the effect on health was
positive or negative.
Mobile phones can isolate children
Tahr Shaltoot is a psychological expert who appeared on Al-Jazeera
television channel during a show on the increasing phenomenon of mobile
phone usage among children in the Arab world. He mentioned that one of
the most damaging aspects of children using mobile phones is that it
isolates them from the world around them.
“Due to the fact
that modern mobile phones now have a lot of entertaining applications,
the child tends to spend more time using the phone and less time around
their families though they are with them at the same house, which is of
course dangerous,” he said. Shaltoot added that when the child becomes
isolated, parents lose the ability to monitor and guide their child in
When asked about the psychological effects on
children who cannot afford to buy or who are not allowed to buy mobile
phones like their friends, Shaltoot said that parents shouldn’t give
their children whatever they want since that will affect their
enthusiasm for accomplishing things on their own.