Dangers of tween cell phone usage

Dangers of tween cell phone usage
This is the fourth article in a week-long series on tween cell phone usage.

Safety is our first priority as parents.  There are several dangers of cell phone usage by tweens to be aware of when deciding whether to arm your tween with a mobile device.

Bullying

Your tween could be bullied via text, and mobile phones can be a tough medium to monitor if you don't have parental controls, or if your kid can slip around parental controls. On the flip side, tweens in particular often don't consider the impact of their words or actions, and both have power, even via cell phone.  Even texts not intended to be bullying can have serious consequences.  The Sun-Sentinel made the point in this editorial after a teen savagely beat another teen, allegedly in retaliation for a disparaging text about his brother.

Sexting

No one wants to think about tweens sexting, which is the transmission of sexually explicit images or messages between cellphones, but it happens.  The journal Pediatrics found that almost 10% of 10-17 year olds have electronically sent or received “sexually suggestive” images in the last year, and 6% of kids who send or create sexually suggestive or explicit images used in texts are 10 to 12 years old. It’s important to talk to your children frankly about sexting before any negative incidents occur. I found this article, "A Parent's Guide to Unprotected Sexting," helpful.

Health concerns

Some scientists believe that the electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones should be considered a potential human health risk. The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute stated in its paper, "The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones," that "studies in humans do not indicate that cell phones are safe, nor do they yet clearly show that they are dangerous" but also found that it is likely that "children are more susceptible to electromagnetic fields due to smaller sized brains and softer brain tissue."  It seems that tweens are more focused on texting and gaming, and the University of Pittsburgh paper noted that the "amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet."

Across the pond, the Council of Europe recommended that cell phones and Wi-Fi signals be kept away from schools, although it did not offer a definitive answer on how dangerous cell phone radiation is.

Less Sleep

Teens sleep less when they have cell phones, and it stands to reasons that the same is true for tweens.  I like the idea of a device that I control the hours of operation to combat this and ensure that my tween is getting the 10 hours of sleep that she needs.

That's a lot to worry about, although many are items you can talk to your tween about and, if you have parental controls, you can limit some of the reasons for concern.

For some, cell phones are a safety device and they bring peace of mind and we'll talk about that in tomorrow's post, Cell phones bring tween parents peace of mind.

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