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|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 6 | Page : 1896-1897
Smartphone Use and Child Neurology
Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy
|Date of Submission||05-Mar-2021|
|Date of Decision||31-Mar-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||11-Apr-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||23-Dec-2021|
Dr. Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Okechukwu CE. Smartphone Use and Child Neurology. Neurol India 2021;69:1896-7
Exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) from smartphones over a long period might have a negative impact on a child's brain development.,, Children absorb higher RF-EMR dose in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. Hence, there is a need to limit the daily use of smartphones among children. RF-EMR has two major effects on brain tissues, namely, thermal effect and nonthermal effect. A child's level of myelination differs from that of adult. The myelin sheath, which is a protective insulating fatty layer that forms around the nerve cell axons, is thin in children when compared with adults. Moreover, RF-EMR is more absorbed by the brain tissues of children than adults. The skull of a child is thinner, and the head is smaller than that of a healthy adult. Children's skull has dielectric features like those of soft tissues. Moreover, finite-difference time-domain simulations showed field penetration and higher specific absorption rate in deeper structures in children's brain. Several mothers believe that their children need a smartphone because it would improve their knowledge and well-being. However, problematic smartphone use is prevalent among children, and it is associated with poor sleep quality, depression, and anxiety. Problematic smartphone use is detrimental to a child's mental health and cognitive development.,,,
In Sweden, most children aged 7 to 14 years have access to smartphones, and there is a rapid rise in the use of mobile phones with age. Moreover, there is less use of smartphone headsets among Swedish children. Headsets help lessen the RF-EMR exposure because of increasing the smartphone proximity to the head while on a call. The effect of mobile phone RF-EMR on brain physiology and development has not been well studied in children. Findings from a Swiss cohort study showed that RF-EMR exposure has adverse effects on neurocognitive functions among adolescents. Awakening during the night by an incoming text message or a call was associated with an increase in headache and fatigue among adolescents.
There is need to establish safety measures regarding the use of smartphones among children below 12 years of age. Prolonged smartphone call-time with the smartphone held against the head should be minimized in children. Preferably, a headset should be used by children to make phone calls. Moreover, excessive use of mobile internet among children should be discouraged. Children's brain tissue is more conductive, and their heads absorb more RF-EMR when making a phone call than that of adults. The higher water content of children's brain makes it more electrically conductive than those of adults. The exposure of children to smartphone's low RF-EMR should be emphasized because of the possible vulnerability of their developing nervous system. Myelination of the nerve cells of the frontal lobes is not complete until late teenagehood or early adulthood. Moreover, the skull of children is not fully matured when compared with those of adults. Long-term use of smartphone among children may have adverse effects on their brain development. However, although the possible biological effects of RF-EMF emitted by smartphones on children's brain functional anatomy can be easily prevented, the psychological/behavioral dependence on smartphones among children is detrimental to their sleep quality, mental health, and emotional, social, and physical well-being. Problematic smartphone use may not be easy to prevent, especially in children who started using smartphones in early childhood. Therefore, all efforts should be made to mitigate both the adverse biological effects and the psychological/behavioral consequences of smartphone use among children. Because of the widespread use of smartphones in the early years, there is a need for large clinical and epidemiological studies regarding the implications of prolonged smartphone use on the brain and mental development among children, and effective strategies should be taken to mitigate the possible adverse effects.
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