Can Cell Phones Be Harmful to Your Health?


Rachel Snyder

Students glued to their cell phone screens.

Do you use your phone for more than three hours per day? Are you sleeping with your phone only inches away from your face? If you answered yes to both of these questions, it might be time to make a change. Here are a few reasons why.

Excessive use of your phone could cause changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns.

Ivan Delgado, Pine Crest’s trainer, shared his thoughts on this topic. He said, “Sleeping with a phone near one’s head has been known to disrupt sleep pattern due to the small light that is emitted from messages.”

In addition, children have the potential to be at greater risk than adults for developing brain cancer from cell phones since their nervous systems are still developing and therefore more vulnerable to factors that may cause cancer.

Another certainly alarming statistic is that the average cell phone screen is three times dirtier than a toilet seat.  According to ABC News, in a study published in the journal Annals of Clinical Microbiology, health care workers’ phones were screened, and the researchers found that some of the bacteria found on the phones were superbugs, which are resistant to one or more commonly used antibiotics.

Cell phone use is also linked to skin problems. Nickel is a metal found in cell phones and several dermatologists say that nickel is the most common cause of dermatitis in the developed world. In addition, many people are allergic to nickel and other metals found in cell phones, which can be very harmful to their bodies.

Pediatricians recommend that children only use their cell phones for two hours, but teens are nearly spending nine hours a day on average according to a new study from Common Sense Media. Additionally, tweens (ages 8-12) are on their phones for nearly six hours a day. Sophomore Sierra Stocker says she uses her phone for three and a half hours on average, which although is significantly less than the average time for teens, is still an hour and a half more than the time recommended by pediatricians.

Although these facts may be frightening, there are several tips recommended by the FDA to reduce the exposure to radiofrequency energy. You can reserve the use of cell phones for shorter conversations or for times when a landline phone is not available, or you can use a hands-free device, which places more distance between the phone and the head of the user.

Mr. Delgado also agrees that hands-free devices are a great way to decrease exposure to radiofrequency.

He said, “The risk of electromagnetic wave radiation should be minimal since the time of exposure and proximity to the body is minimal, so the chances of side effects are very little.”

There is simply not enough research evidence to conclude that cell phones are either extremely dangerous or extremely safe. However, it does not hurt to be more aware of how time is spent facing a cell phone screen. It is certainly recommended to try to use cell phones less, and keep them further away throughout the day and night.

Sources: ABC News, NCBI, FDA, Forbes, Cleveland Clinic, Scientific American, Washington Post