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Steven Novella on December 8, Shares Cell phones continue to be a focus of epidemiological studies and public concern, despite the fact that so far there is no compelling evidence of any health risk from cell phones.
Concerns are likely to be sparked anew with the report of a study linking cell phone use to behavioral problems in children.
The study, by Divan, Kheifets, Obel, and Olsen, is a follow up of a prior study which showed a correlation between cell phone use in pregnant women and behavior problems in their children. They sought to replicate this study with a larger data set and taking into consideration more possible confounding factors.
Results The highest OR for behavioural problems were for children who had both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones compared with children not exposed during either time period.
The adjusted effect estimate was 1. Conclusions The findings of the previous publication were replicated in this separate group of participants demonstrating that cell phone use was associated with behavioural problems at age 7 years in children, and this association was not limited to early users of the technology.
Although weaker in the new dataset, even with further control for an extended set of potential confounders, the associations remained.
This is a small, if statistically significant, effect. An odds ratio of 1. In this case the outcomes were based upon questionnaires, and are therefore reliant on subjective reporting.
The results of this study are interesting, but the usual caveats apply. The absolute effect size is small, and the outcomes based upon subjective reporting. This is an observational study, not an experimental study, so no conclusions can be drawn regarding cause and effect.
The study authors did not even speculate about a possible mechanism, and would not suggest that cell phone use causes the observed behavior problems.
It should also be noted that while this study replicated a previous study, the effect size was smaller. Also, accounting for other possible correlates, such as social status and maternal history of behavioral problems, tended to decrease the effect size as well although not eliminate it.
It is possible that the correlation is spurious or is an artifact of reporting bias. If the correlation is real, it seems likely that there are confounding factors that have not been sufficiently accounted for. The authors themselves considered as many as possible. The plausibility of a direct effect of cell phone use is quite low.
Physicists have pointed out that cell phones generate only small amounts of energy, the primary effect of which is to heat up surrounding tissue.
But the non-ionizing radiation from cell phones, by definition, is of too low energy to break chemical bonds or cause any cellular damage. Concerns over cell phone use have largely surrounded the risk of brain cancer, and epidemiological studies have not shown increase in brain cancer overall or an increased risk correlating with cell phone use.
The data does not entirely clear cell phones either, but so far the evidence does not support a link. Given the low biological plausibility and generally negative epidemiological data, it is unlikely that cell phones directly cause any biological harm.
This also applies to behavioral problems, as investigated in this study. Conclusion While sure to garner headlines, this study is not compelling evidence that cell phones are a health concern with regard to behavioral problems in children. The study found a small absolute effect size which is very likely to be due to confounding factors that were insufficiently accounted for in this study.also been suggested that the use of cell phones has had a negative affect on social relationships, grammar, and increased social anxiety (Tully, ).
BACKGROUND. How Has Texting Affected the Social Lives of Teens? With texting outpacing other forms of communication, you have to wonder how this technology shift alters the social lives and behavior of today's teens. How Do Cell Phones Negatively Affect the Health of Teens? How Cell Phones Affect Social Behavior The world has advanced too fast, that most of us act like we need technology in our daily lives - How Cell Phones Affect Social Behavior introduction.
Cell phones have changed from a device used for emergencies to an everyday necessity. How Has Texting Affected the Social Lives of Teens? With texting outpacing other forms of communication, you have to wonder how this technology shift alters the social lives and behavior of today's teens. Harmful Effects of Cell Phones on Kids 2.
Facts About Internet Addiction pfmlures.comd: Jun 17, How Smartphones Are Killing Conversation A Q&A with MIT professor Sherry Reclaiming Conversation is Turkle’s call to take a closer look at the social effects of cell phones and to re-sanctify the role of conversation in our everyday lives Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?
Very Likely. Feb 20, · Cell phones keep us socially connected, but new research suggests they actually reduce users’ social consciousness. In fact, the study showed that .