Girl Planting seeds

Cell Phones and 5G Technology

young_boy_cell_phone_shutterstock_148606004By Deirdre Imus, June 2018
Of all the ways in which raising children today is more challenging than in previous generations, monitoring cell phone use is at the top of the list. Many of the problems that stem from these devices, such as concerns over safety and online bullying, have been plaguing parents for more than a decade. These are tricky waters to navigate, as we try to keep our kids, particularly teens and adolescents, happy and thriving despite an internet that seems designed to do exactly the opposite.

Putting those perilous and ever-present issues aside, it’s important to consider another danger lurking inside our phones, threatening us all but especially our kids. Ever since cell phones became a regular fixture of modern life more than two decades ago, rumors have swirled about the ways in which these devices may – or may not – affect human health.

The evidence from most scientific studies has indicated that we’d be wise to reduce the amount of time spent holding a cell phone within inches of our brains. It has been a slow march rather than a race toward understanding the effects of this radiation on our bodies, but most research, including a study released just this past March linking it to cancer, confirms our worst fears.

Needless to say, we aren’t doing anyone any favors when it comes to cell phone radiation exposure. These devices emit low levels of radiofrequency (RF) energy, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledges can produce negative health effects by heating tissue. When tissue inside the body is heated, it may become damaged.  Cell phone RF exposure has also been shown to impact brain activity, and has been linked to an increased risk for the brain cancer glioma in children and teens who used the devices before 20 years of age. Research from Yale found that pregnant mice exposed to RF radiation were more likely to have offspring with behavioral disorders.

While it’s not advisable for anyone to put these devices close to their heads, the effects are more real for today’s children, most of whom have been chronically exposed to cell phone radiation since they were born. But the potentially disastrous effects on human health were determined more than 40 years ago, when a scientist working with the Office of Naval Research showed that the brain membranes of rats were “relaxed” by regular exposure to radiation similar to that of cell phones.  When this protective layer around the brain relaxes, it is not as good at protecting us from absorbing harmful chemicals.

Subsequent research designed to replicate this study was “designed to fail,” as Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, Founder and President of the nonprofit Environmental Health Trust, noted in a 2011 newsletter by the organization. Dr. Davis, who also authored the book “Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation,” has further insisted that the result of any cell phone radiation study will be “directly related” to whomever financed the research. Which is maybe why there has been a slow trickle of evidence on this subject rather than a gushing stream, as there should be for any public health concern that affects nearly every person on the planet.

Cell phones and the radiation they emit – in addition to the radiation from WiFi devices, microwaves, laptops, and other modern conveniences – is unavoidable. To live in the modern world is to interact with these technologies on a daily if not hourly basis. But there are ways to limit your exposure and that of your loved ones, even if it means fielding a few complaints from some less-than-thrilled teenagers.

The Environmental Health Trust recommends reintroducing wired technology into your home, noting that there is no known “safe level” of cell phone radiation. If this is not possible, some suggested strategies include:


You can do these things. We all can. It’s a lot easier than living in a technology-free bubble, and certainly preferable to bearing the health burdens of long-term, chronic, low-level cell phone radiation exposure – whatever those may be.

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