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Council On Consumer Affairs Nixes Cell Phones For Children Under 12
United Daily News
April 07, 2005

Taiwan's cell phone companies are busy pushing handsets at children, seeking to grab the youngest segment of the consumer market. However, the Council on Consumer Affairs said on Wednesday that cell phone use at too early an age could be harmful both physically and mentally, and urged parents not to allow children under 12 to use mobile phones.

The Council said that globally the attitude on cell phone use by children was conservative. The British National Radiation Protection Bureau issued a statement in January of this year, suggesting that parents should not allow children under eight to use cell phones. In China, the Consumer Association likewise issued a similar report back in 2001, warning about the use of cell phones and similar radiation-emitting electronic devices and urging everyone to limit long-term use.

Council Chairman Lee Feng said on Wednesday that long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation predisposes people to negative effects on the blood vessels, sight, reproductive functions, immune system and metabolism. Currently, although there is as yet no formal declaration of the hazards connected to cell phone use, research by an Australian scientist has shown that global handset use causes "heat shock" to proteins, destroying cell defense systems and leading to cancer. He suggested that pregnant women and children avoid or limit cell phone use to protect their own health and that of unborn children.

Professor Hsiao Hong-ching of the Department of Electronic Engineering, Taiwan Technical University, says that the skulls of children under 12 are not yet completely formed, and do not afford total protection to the brain. He does not advocate the use of mobile phones by children under 12, in order to avoid exposure to electromagnetic waves.

Assistant Professor Yi Shannong of the Department of Electronics at Liming College of Technology said that handsets produce greater electromagnetic radiation when dialing out. If one holds the handset next to the ear at this moment, the effect is similar to that of being X-rayed. It is possible that this might have undesirable effects on the brain. If parents insist on having children use cellular phones, they should instruct the children to hold the phone at a safe distance from their heads while dialing, in order to avoid damage.

Apart from the physical harm that cell phones may occasion, Hungarian scientists have also published research indicating that overuse of the devices by youth can cause “cell phone overreliance syndrome". The moment an affected youth is cut off from the phone, he becomes uneasy, experiences emotional lows, nervousness and anxiety, and other psychological symptoms.

The Council on Consumer Affairs called on the Directorate General of Telecommunications to initiate testing and make public SAR data on various brands of handsets, as well as to request that cell phone companies that already sell phones to children should take such devices off the shelf until sufficient research results show that they are suitable for children to use. The Council is also calling for warning labels, diagrams and information for kids on how to properly use cellular phones to avoid problems.

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