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Cells, cell phones and consequences

With increased attachment to phones, experts have become concerned with the consequences of possessing one. Users check their phones when they wake up in the morning and before bed and even sleep with their phones.

In December 2017, the California Department of Public Health officially issued a warning regarding the risk of cell phone radiation. They asked the people of California to shorten their time on smartphones and keep them out of reach when not in use.

“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,” said CDPH Director Dr. Karen Smith.

The CDPH advises to place your smartphone some place other than your pocket and not putting it up to the ear for a long time when talking. They also advise to be aware of phone usage in a fast-moving car, bus or train, as the smartphone will emit more radiofrequency energy as it tries to maintain the connection.

A preliminary report done by the National Toxicology Program raised concerns after a test where rats exposed to radiation by cell phones encountered a small but significant increase of tumors in the heart and brain.

Cell phones send out radio waves from their antennas, a form of non-ionizing radiation according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation,” according to the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. “Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as from x-rays, is known to increase the risk of cancer.”

Not only have the physical concerns of cell phone radiation garnered attention, concerns for the mental state of teenagers has also risen.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan Management Review created an experiment conducted by professors in Italy and France where students gave up their smartphones for a day as requirements for courses.

The experiment stated most of the students felt some degree of anxiety. One respondent indicated he checked his phone four times every 10 mimutes.

A study done by the Oxford Academic Journal found young people in the United States performed worse on mental tasks and felt withdrawals as well as physiological symptoms like increased heart rate and blood pressure as a result of the absence of their smartphones. They stated they felt a sense of loss of their “extended self.”

Alice Walton of Forbes thinks the trend of being attached to a smartphone could even reverse as people search for relief from constant dependency.

“It will be interesting to see how our interactions with our phones change over time—maybe the pendulum will swing back the other way as cell phones, and social media, become less novel,” she said. 

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