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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.


1. - 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] [View on Pubmed]
2. - Christ A, Kuster N, (2005) Differences in RF energy absorption in the heads of adults and children, Bioelectromagnetics. 2005;Suppl 7:S31-44 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
3. - de Salles AA et al, (2006) Electromagnetic absorption in the head of adults and children due to mobile phone operation close to the head, Electromagn Biol Med. 2006;25(4):349-60 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
4. - Wiart J et al, (July 2008) Analysis of RF exposure in the head tissues of children and adults, Phys Med Biol. 2008 Jul 7;53(13):3681-95 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
5. P D'Costa H et al, (December 2003) Human brain wave activity during exposure to radiofrequency field emissions from mobile phones, Australas Phys Eng Sci Med. 2003 Dec;26(4):162-7 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
6. P Krause CM et al, (June 2006) Mobile phone effects on children's event-related oscillatory EEG during an auditory memory task, Int J Radiat Biol 2006 Jun;82(6):443-50 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
7. P Aalto S et al, (July 2006) Mobile phone affects cerebral blood flow in humans, J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2006 Jul;26(7):885-90 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
8. P Fejes I et al, (September 2005) Is there a relationship between cell phone use and semen quality?, Arch Androl. 2005 Sep-Oct;51(5):385-93 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
9. P Erogul O et al, (October 2006) Effects of electromagnetic radiation from a cellular phone on human sperm motility: an in vitro study, Arch Med Res 37(7):840-3 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
10. P Agarwal A et al, (January 2008) Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic, Fertil Steril. 2008 Jan;89(1):124-8 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
11. P Baste V et al, (April 2008) Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; male infertility and sex ratio of offspring, Eur J Epidemiol. 2008 Apr 16 [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
12. P Lonn S et al, (November 2004) Mobile phone use and the risk of acoustic neuroma, Epidemiology. 2004 Nov;15(6):653-9 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
13. P 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] [View on Pubmed]
14. P Hardell L et al, (September 2007) Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours - increased risk associated with use for > 10 years, Occup Environ Med. 2007 Sep;64(9):626-32 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
15. P Hardell L et al, (May 2008) Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours, Int J Oncol. 2008 May;32(5):1097-103 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Other Links

Samsung International website - Samsung International website
Samsung S3030 Tobi website - Samsung S3030 Tobi website
News release covering removal of MyMo from the market - News release covering removal of MyMo from the market
Teddyfone website - 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 - 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.


1. P Schuz J et al, (2009) Risks for central nervous system diseases among mobile phone subscribers: a Danish retrospective cohort study, PLoS ONE. 2009;4(2):e4389. Epub 2009 Feb 5 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
2. N Schuz J et al, (December 2006) Cellular telephone use and cancer risk: update of a nationwide Danish cohort, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2006 Dec 6;98(23):1707-13 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

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.


1. N 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] [View on Pubmed]
2. P Stang A et al, (January 2001) The possible role of radiofrequency radiation in the development of uveal melanoma, Epidemiology. 2001 Jan;12(1):7-12 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

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