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Teddy Bear Mobile 'Puts 4-Year Olds at Risk from Radiation'
Telegraph News, November 29, 2005
by Nic Fleming, Medical
teddy bear-shaped mobile phone aimed at children as young as four was
manufacturers of the Teddyfone claimed it would help parents keep track
of their children while minimising potential health hazards posed by
radio frequency emissions.
no screen and only four buttons that can be pre-programmed by parents,
the device prevents users from being targeted by text message bullying,
calls from strangers or inappropriate adult material.
makers of the Teddyfone claim that the rate at which the body absorbs
energy from the handset, known as its peak specific absorption rate, is
0.16w/kg - close to the lowest available. Most mobiles have SAR values
of 0.4 to 0.7w/kg.
William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, advised
parents earlier this year to discourage use of mobile phones by
children under eight as a precaution against potential health risks.
the agency was joined in its criticism of the Teddyfone by even the
industry body that represents mobile phone operators.
spokesman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "The companies we
represent don't market their products to under-16s, as recommended by
Sir William Stewart. We believe that is a responsible policy and is in
line with the advice on health."
Liesching, the managing director of Teddyfone Ltd, who said the device
was aimed at four- to 10-year-olds, pointed to research showing that a
quarter of seven- to 10-year-olds owned mobiles. He said parents should
be able to buy low-emission handsets that also protected children from
other potential dangers.
is a basic parental decision. If you see the utility and benefits of
your child having a mobile phone are greater than any potential risks,
give your child a mobile phone. If you don't, then don't.
million children under 10 already have mobile phones which potentially
put them at risk from text-bullying, excessive charges and
inappropriate material. Teddy-fone is a response to clear demand in the
new handset has an SOS button that allows children who feel under
threat to connect automatically to a parent's mobile.
child monitor option allows concerned parents to listen in to what is
happening around their child and an optional child locator service
sends parents a map of where their son or daughter is, on request, for
handsets and two years' line rental are free. Calls are charged at
William, the Government's leading adviser on radiation, said in January
that children under nine should not use mobiles and that those aged
nine to 14 should make only short, essential calls.
said: "When it comes to suggesting that mobile phones should be
available to three- to eight-year-olds, I can't believe for a moment
that can be justified.
advice is that they should not have them because children's skulls are
not fully thickened, their nervous systems are not fully developed and
the radiation penetrates further into their brains."
research suggests that a child's brain absorbs 50-70 per cent more of
the emissions from a mobile phone than an adult's.
Philips, of consumer group Powerwatch, said yesterday: "Marketing a
product at children when there is increasing evidence that it may be
causing them both short-term and long-term harm is at the very least
highly irresponsible." Dr Michael Clarke, of the Health Protection
Agency, said: "It's up to any company to justify its product in light
of our advice that children should be discouraged from excessive use of
a British company, lost about £500,000 after launching Mymo, a mobile
for under-eights, last year. It withdrew the product following Sir
survey of 1,232 parents of children under 16 carried out on behalf of
Teddyfone found that 35 per cent of respondents were concerned about
the potential health hazards for children under 10 with mobiles. Nearly
a quarter were worried about their child's phone being stolen.
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