Adolescent in-school cellphone habits: A census of rules, survey of their effectiveness, and fertility implications
Mary Redmaynea, , , Euan Smitha, , Michael J. Abramsona, b,
||School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
||Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred, Melbourne, VIC. 3004, Australia
Received 12 February 2011; revised 22 June 2011; Accepted 20 August 2011. Available online 6 September 2011.
We explored school cellphone rules and adolescent exposure to cellphone microwave emissions during school with a census and survey, respectively. The data were used to assess health and policy implications through a review of papers assessing reproductive bio-effects after exposure to cellphone emissions, this being most relevant to students’ exposure. All schools banned private use of cellphones in class. However, 43% of student participants admitted breaking this rule. A high-exposure group of risk-takers was identified for whom prohibited in-school use was positively associated with high texting rates, carrying the phone switched-on >10 h/day, and in-pocket use. The fertility literature is inconclusive, but increasingly points towards significant time- and dose-dependent deleterious effects from cellphone exposure on sperm. Genotoxic effects have been demonstrated from ‘non-thermal’ exposures, but not consistently. There is sufficient evidence and expert opinion to warrant an enforced school policy removing cellphones from students during the day.
► A majority of NZ adolescents carry a cellphone switched-on in a pocket >6 h/day. ► More than two in five regularly send texts from within a side pocket. ► A fifth carry one >10 h/day and use it in-pocket. ► Research suggests this may impair future fertility and/or reproductive integrity.
Keywords: Cellular phone; Adolescent; Fertility; Sperm; Risk; Policy