Written By: Ryan McCaughey, PhD

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting cell phone use for children and teenagers. They are concerned that current cell phone radiation safety limits are based on large adults – but because children’s skulls are thinner they can absorb more radiation. Research predicts that the radiation absorption in brain tissues of children aged between 5 and 8 years is about two times higher than in adults.[i]

The AAP advises that there should be a review of radiation standards for cell phones in an effort to protect children's health, reflect current cell phone use patterns, and provide meaningful consumer disclosure.[ii]

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warns that children may be more at risk for harm from exposure to RF energy because:

  • RF energy can reach a larger area of child’s brain than an adult’s brain
  • During a child’s development, the body may be more easily affected by RF energy
  • Children will have many more years of exposure.

The CDPH also notes that studies have shown that there is some evidence of hearing loss or ringing in the ears, headaches, and decreased general well-being in children who use cell phones.[iii]

There are limited studies on the association between brain cancer in children and cell phone radiation exposure. A 2011 study in Europe of 7 to 19-year-olds found a higher risk of a tumor for the kids who used a phone more than once a week for six months.[iv] However, because the risk did not increase with more use, the scientists argue against a causal relationship.

The MOBI-KIDS project is a large 14 country study involving 2000 children investigating the risk of brain cancer from exposure to radiofrequency fields in childhood and adolescence that ran from 2010 to 2015.[v] The results have not yet been released.

In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.[vi] Director of IARC, Christopher Wild said "it is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure”.



[i] https://doi.org/10.1088/0031-9155/53/13/019  

[ii] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Cell-Phone-Radiation-Childrens-Health.aspx

[iii] https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/EHIB/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Cell-Phone-Guidance.pdf

[iv] https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djr244

[v] http://www.mbkds.net/index.html

[vi] http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf