Let me begin by talking about what I see daily as a teacher in the public school system. In every class, unless otherwise instructed, the face of nearly every child is facing a cellphone. It makes me wonder what they would be doing today if we did not have cellphones for just about every member of the family.

One day, it took everything in me to stick to the subject, because I wanted to go rogue and ask the question: What do you think you would do differently without a cellphone? It may be an impossible question for them to answer, since cellphones have been around for their entire lives. I watch students search for answers to handouts by Googling the question. Never mind reading the article or looking in the book — let’s just use Google to find the answer.

This article is based on some facts, but quite a bit is just my comparison to how life once was, compared to today. Even youngsters ages 1, 2 and up can pick up a cellphone and move around on it. Amazing!

Recently, as I waited for my new cellphone upgrade while the information was transferring, I sat between two young children. The little boy, younger than 2, was going to town with his cellphone. I couldn’t figure out who his parents were, since nobody said anything to him while I sat beside him. I watched as he played game after game, watching something that looked ridiculous. I definitely would not want my child to watch that!

Then you have parents like my daughter, who has one child, a girl, that she tried to keep away from electronics. Like the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is gone, he will not depart from it.” Both parents kept her away from cellphones, computers and all electronics for years. In fact, they didn’t even allow her to watch very many television shows. Now that she’s 11 years old, she has a cellphone, and she is just like the others. We cannot understand why she is studying how to apply a full face of makeup. And the list goes on and on!

Multiple studies link addictive relationships with mobile devices to mental health problems in teens, including depression, anxiety and disrupted sleep. Neuroscience tells us that tweens’ and teens’ developing brains make them especially vulnerable to both addiction and mental health crises.

Since teens use their phones for everything from schoolwork to socializing to getting around, it can be hard to distinguish between use that is appropriate and beneficial and that of obsessiveness. Red flags include missing out on in-person interactions with friends or family in favor of time on devices and neglecting their other activities and responsibilities. One key step parents can take is to institute a cellphone curfew — for everyone in the family.

Plus, radiation has risks.

Whether or not the radiofrequency energy emitted by cellphones causes cancer has been debated since the advent of the first mobile phone. While some studies have found statistically significant links between cancer risk and long-term cellphone use, other studies have found no link. And the effect of these waves on children’s developing brains is not yet known. Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, encourage everyone in your family to adopt safe habits.

In 2017, the state of California issued guidelines for limiting exposure to radiofrequency energy from cellphones from research done by an organization called Great Schools. Safe practices include:

• While sleeping, keep your phone a few feet away from your body.
• When streaming audio or video, keep your device away from your body and head.
• If talking on the phone, use a headset rather than holding the phone close to your head.

• In a fast-moving vehicle or on rapid transit, use airplane mode because your phone puts out more radiofrequency energy to maintain a connection as it switches from one cell tower to the next.

These are just some tips for each of us to keep in mind. Families manage to pay cellphone bills before they buy groceries.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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