• 13 JAN 09
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    #1008: France cracks down on children’s use of mobile phones


    France cracks down on children’s mobile phone use, but Britain still ignoring warnings

    By Peter Allen and Fiona Macrae
    11th January 2009

    France has begun a crackdown on children having mobile phones after research linked their use to brain cancer.

    Advertising mobiles to children under 12 is to be prohibited under the legislation announced by the environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

    He will also take steps to ban the sale of phones designed for those aged under six.

    France is warning of the dangers of children using mobile phones, while in Britain their popularity is growing

    France is warning of the dangers of children using mobile phones, while in Britain their popularity is growing

    Campaigners in Britain say the drive contrasts with the stance of the Labour Government, which is accused of ignoring an official report which recommended in 2000 that under-16s should be discouraged from using mobiles.

    Since 2000 mobile use among children has doubled, with ninety per cent of the country”s 16-year-olds now owning a handset.

    Graham Philips, a spokesman for safety lobby group Powerwatch, said: ‘Most people in the UK have no idea that Government advice is that under-16s don’t use their phones. Public information is sorely lacking.

    ‘It is almost as if they are saying ‘We think there might be a problem but we don’t want it to be public because it will upset everyone.’

    The French government will also set new limits for radiation from handsets and make it compulsory for them to be sold with earphones.

    It is thought to be the most comprehensive action taken by any government-worldwide.

    Swedish research indicates that children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobiles, leading to warnings of an ‘epidemic’ among users in later life.

    The French ministry warned that youngsters may be ‘more sensitive (to radiation from phones) because their bodies are still developing’. Children’s heads are smaller and their skulls thinner.

    Many British parents see a mobile as an essential tool to keep in touch with their children, especially when they are going out alone.

    In contrast, France sees them as an absolute danger, with advertisements being put up in major cities including Lyon this week reading: “Let”s keep them healthy, away from mobile phones!’

    The legislation is the latest evidence of alarm among officials at the hazards of mobile phone use.

    In September, the European Parliament voted to urge ministers across Europe to bring in stricter radiation limits. In Canada health officials warn teenagers to keep calls shorter than ten minutes, and Russia advises under-18s to avoid using phones.

    Last night the Department of Health said it ‘strongly advised’ that children were encouraged to use mobile phones in emergencies only and to keep calls short.

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