• 24 MAR 09
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    From the CHEEMF list:

    London Daily Express, England. 23 March 2009

    By Mark Reynolds

    MILLIONS of youngsters are spending up to six hours a day on their mobile phones, according to new research published yesterday.
    And the figures have prompted fears that the nation is sitting on a health timebomb.
    Eight out of 10 children are now addicted to their mobiles, despite growing concerns of an increased risk of developing cancer.

    A recent study suggested young children and teenagers were five times more likely to get brain cancer if they over-used their mobile phones. However, the new research yesterday revealed that despite such fears, 81 per cent of children in the UK now say their phone is their most important possession “” with one in three saying they would feel alone without it. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have a handset, and more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren have one.

    Youngsters said they now spend a total of nearly six hours a day on their mobile phone, talking, texting, listening to music or playing games. Nearly half of youngsters said they slept with their mobile at the bedside, and three quarters said they checked it for missed calls or texts as soon as they woke in the morning. Six out of 10 said they would not be able to function if they had their phone stolen and 54 per cent described it as an essential tool.

    Last night a spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said: “If young children are using mobile phones for six or seven hours a day they should be discouraged from doing so on a precautionary basis.” The new nationwide survey of 2,000 six to 17-year-olds found the average child will send 19 texts, receive 15 messages and make eight calls every day. In addition, they waste four hours a week just “messing around” on their handset.

    A spokesman for research site youngpoll.com, said: “To many children, they are the quickest and easiest way to communicate with lots of friends. “With mobile phones being able to do more and more things, they”™re the first thing kids reach for when they”™re bored and the biggest must-have. With a simple push of a button, children can be online, playing games or listening to their favourite tunes, but the time soon adds up.

    “It”™s tricky to get the right balance. “Yet for parents they can feel more at ease knowing they can get in touch with their kids whenever they want or wherever they are.”

    It also emerged that a quarter of children have been caught using their mobile during lessons and one in 10 has physical probems from using mobile phones with repetitive strain injury or sore thumbs being the most common complaint. However, it is the fear over the development of cancerous brain tumours which has led some governments to take action. A recent study in Sweden found that youngsters are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones.

    Prof Lennart Hardell, of the University Hospital in Orebro in Sweden, who led the study, said the risk of a cancer in the brain was dramatically increased in people who start using mobile phones before the age of 20. Prof Hardell, who believes that children under 12 should be banned from using mobiles except in emergencies, said: “This is a warning sign. We should be taking precautions.”™”™ In France, the authorities are trying to curb mobile phone use by children. Advertisements encouraging children aged under 12 to use them have been banned. There are also limits on the amount of radiation a mobile phone is allowed to emit. In Britain, the Government has largely ignored the recommendations of reports that under-16s should be discouraged from using mobiles.

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