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12/02/2009 - Samsung market phones for pre-teens
Electronics giant Samsung are the latest company to completely ignore UK government advice and market a mobile phone designed explicitly for children, the S3030 Tobi.
Following in the footsteps of the MyMo and Teddyfone controversies a few years ago, this is the first time a large corporation has publicly thrown its marketing weight behind a children's phone.
The UK Department of Health is very explicit in pointing at that whilst there is evidence of possible risk that is not fully understood, children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential calls only and keep calls short, discouraging their use for any non-essential purposes. This is primarily because there is fairly good evidence that should there be a risk, it will be greater in children due to greater absorbtion as the skull is considerably thinner through the childhood years[Ghandi 2002, Christ 2005, de Salles 2006, Wiart 2008].
Other countries are also recommending restrictions on mobile phone useage for children and young people, such as Russia, France and Finland.
Looking at some of the other press releases, and the Tobi website itself, it is very clear that Samsung aim for it to be both a useful calling device and also a fun toy, with games and customisable themes - quite the opposite of recommending its useage restricted to essential calls only.
As scientific evidence that mobile phone usage (particularly long term usage) is causing a number of serious health issues from neurological effects[D'Costa 2003, Krause 2006, Aalto 2006] all the way up to infertility[Fejes 2005, Erogul 2006, Agarwal 2008, Baste 2008] and brain cancer[Lonn 2004, Hardell 2005, Hardell 2007, Hardell 2008], marketing these phones at youngsters between 4 and 8 years of age is hugely irresponsible. The fact it is also contradicting government advice on the subject is inexcusable.
Ghandi O, Kang G
, (May 2002) Some present problems and a proposed experimental phantom for SAR compliance testing of cellular telephones at
835 and 1900 MHz
, Phys. Med. Biol. 47 1501 18 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Hardell L et al
, (2005) Case-control study on cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for acoustic neuroma or meningioma in patients diagnosed 2000-2003
, Neuroepidemiology. 2005;25(3):120-8 [View Author's abstract conclusions
- Samsung International website
- Samsung S3030 Tobi website
- News release covering removal of MyMo from the market
- Teddyfone website
Also in the news
RNCNIRP members voice concern on mobile phones
Russian scientists (and members of RNCNIRP) Yuri Grigoriev and Oleg Grigoriev (not related) have both voiced their concerns about mobile phones and brain tumour risk, particularly in connection with the use of mobile phones by children.
Citing Swedish data by Lennart Hardell (that showed a 5 fold increase in risk by the age of 21 for children who started using their phones regularly between the ages of 8 and 12), Yuri said "We have a very cautious attitude as regards children, our future generation. There is data suggesting that brain tumors could develop". Oleg Gregoriev said that "in line with Russian sanitary norms, the use of cell phones is not recommended for minors"a.
- Coverage of original story on Novosti
Danish group find more mobile phone protective effects
The Danish Cohort syndrome has struck again [Schuz 2009] with the same sample of subscribers against non-subscribers, approximately the same team of researchers, and the same flaws as discussed before [Schuz 2006].
Again they managed to find a surprising "protective" effect for dementia (Alzheimer disease, vascular and other dementia), Parkinson disease and epilepsy among men - the cause of this is most likely that the movement of 200,000 unidentifiable subscribers into the control group along with any non-subscription "pay as you go" mobile phone users. What's left therefore is the "healthy worker syndrome", as working age healthy males made up the predominence of the remaining 420,000 mobile phone subscribers, and therefore generally less prone to serious illnesses than the average within the general population.
It is particularly surprising however that, despite these serious issues with the population sample (that are likely to underestimate the risk), the study still found a statistically significant excess of headaches, migraines and vertigo in the cohort. It is relatively important to investigate this finding further, as there have been few epidemiological studies into mobile phones and headaches (clinical trial experiments are generally not valuable for this context).
This paper has also been covered in some detail and with more background information by Mast Victims.
German paper finds no evidence of eye cancer
Andreas Stang, a researcher from Germany, has just published a paper finding no association between uveal melanoma (a form of eye cancer) [Stang 2009], contradicting his early paper that found a very strong association [Stang 2001].
There are a number of flaws and issues involving this latest paper in similar ways to the flaws in the Interphone study (primarily exposure assessment, such as definition of a "regular" user and lack of handling of critical confounders such as DECT phone use.
This paper has been covered in outstanding detail by Louis Slesin on the 16th January entry on Microwave News.
Stang A et al
, (January 2009) Mobile phone use and risk of uveal melanoma: results of the risk factors for uveal melanoma case-control study
, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Jan 21;101(2):120-3. Epub 2009 Jan 13 [View Author's abstract conclusions
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