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Authority Recommends Restricting Childrens' Use of Mobiles

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has recommended restricting the use of mobile phones by children.

The Authority says radiation from mobile phones could pose a health risk but that details of possible side effects remain unclear.

Children tend to use mobiles for phone calls a lot more than adults, who started using them over a decade ago. STUK says the degree of risk from use cannot be fully assessed for several decades. In addition, a child's brain does not fully develop until adulthood.

The authority says the use of mobiles can be restricted by encouraging children to send SMS messages rather than making calls. Parents can restrict the number and duration of calls as well as encourage the use of handsfree units. It adds that speaking in areas with poor reception such as in cars or on trains causes phones to use more power and should be avoided.

STUK does not favour any prohibition of mobile phone use by children noting that a mobile is a good way of keeping in touch with parents.

Mobile Phones May Disrupt Pacemakers

The authority also reminds that mobile phones can interfere with pacemakers. Usually such disruptions are harmless, but use of mobiels with by persons using pacemakers can result in unpleasant sensations such as heart palpitations. Use of mobiles with pacemakers equipped with defibrillators may also cause harmful electrical pulses in the heart.

Pacemaker patients many safely use mobile phones provided that phones are at least 20 centimetres away from their implants. In practice this means that when patients use hands-free accessories, they should not keep their mobiles in their breast pockets.

Nokia: STUK Recommendation Not Based on Latest Research

The STUK recommendations don’t ring true for Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia. The phone manufacturer says the STUK recommendation is not based on the latest scientific findings.

Nokia says health concerns do not even require children to use hands-free equipment. However, it concedes that it's up to parents to decide what’s in the best interest of their own children.

Nokia Director Mark Durrant told YLE that he believes the STUK recommendation to be a precautionary measure. Nokia speculated that the Authority wanted to press for the prudent use of mobile phones, although new scientific evidence has found no danger related to mobile phone usage.

Beyond that, the mobile phone company would not comment any further, saying that the debate is an issue for the entire mobile phone industry, and not just for Nokia.

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