Child Development
The FAQs About Kids and Electronics

The FAQs About Kids and Electronics

May 1, 2013

By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

We frequently hear from parents and others concerned about the effects that today’s electronic technologies might have on children’s health.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about kids and electronics: 

Should I let my baby teethe on my iPhone?

We don’t recommend it! Cell phones can contain over 40 hazardous chemicals and heavy metals. While the latest iPhones are said to be the least toxic ever sold, recent tests conducted on the button, case, and screen nonetheless found that these parts contained chlorine, mercury, chromium, cadmium, and more. Stick to non-toxic teethers made specifically for babies out of natural materials like cotton, wood, and rubber. 

Is Wi-Fi safe for my baby’s developing brain?

The safety of wireless Wi-Fi routers is the subject of tremendous debate. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared radiofrequency radiation a possible carcinogen. Some individuals report ill effects in the presence of Wi-Fi signals, and many schools have banned Wi-Fi networks due to safety concerns. Yet studies reviewed and conducted by Public Health England find no evidence of harm. Experts also point out that Wi-Fi routers use the same frequencies as things like baby monitors and cordless phones, and they emit a very weak signal—just 1/10 of a watt. This strength is reduced by more than half with each doubling of the distance from the router itself. Until more is known, a precautionary approach may be wise. You can locate your router away from places your baby frequents and turn it off when not in use. You may also decide to use a cable to connect to the Internet instead.

Should I let my child play with my cell phone or tablet?

Cell phones and tablets use different signals to connect to phone and Wi-Fi networks. Extended exposures to cell phone signals have been linked to a risk of brain cancer, and the younger a person is the more vulnerable they are. Tablet computers can access both cellular networks and much weaker Wi-Fi signals, and this access can be turned off. The safest approach is to keep cell phones away from children. They’re not necessary for kids so this shouldn’t be a hardship. Tablets are okay with cellular and Wi-Fi functions disengaged. If Internet access is needed, use Wi-Fi and keep tablets away from kid’s heads and laps.

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