Do cell phones cause behavioral problems?
December 7th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Do cell phones cause behavioral problems?

Evidence of harm from cell phones continues to emerge: First there was the possible cancer link, and now there's suggestion that those little hand-held devices may affect children's behavior.

Children who had exposure to cell phones both in the womb and after birth, up to age 7  had a higher likelihood of behavioral problems than those who had no exposure, researchers said in a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The behavioral problems include hyperactivity and attention and social issues.

"These are important findings, but we are just at the beginnings of learning about potential effects of cell phones," said Leeka Kheifets, of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health.

Kheifets and colleagues had previously found similar results in a smaller sample, of 13,000 children from the Danish National Birth Cohort. But she said that analysis needed further scrutiny because the mothers in it had been among the earliest adopters of cell phones, she said.

In this study, the researchers looked at more than 28,000 children. More than 10 percent of children who had prenatal exposure to cell phones had mothers who said they spoke on their cell phones four times a day or more. Nearly 50 percent of mothers said they had a cell phone turned on at all times.   Again, these figures are based on self-reporting by the mothers who participated in the study.

They found that, as with the previous study, the more frequently a mother used a cell phone, the greater the risk that her child would have a behavioral problem. This time around, they also ruled out a family history of behavioral problems, as well as the inattention of the mother. Cell phone use and behavior problems were not related to time breast feeding and spent with the child, either, the researchers found.

The association between cell phone exposure is not terribly strong, Kheifets said. Also, the authors do not yet know the mechanism behind the connection between cell phones and behavioral problems. One theory is that cell phone use may lead to excess secretion of the hormone melatonin, which can affect the mother's metabolism and may influence the development of the fetus's brain. But this is just a speculation, Kheifets said.

There is also no way to know whether the mothers were telling the truth about the amount of cell phone time they had. It's impossible to tell from this research whether cell phone exposure really causes behavioral problems.

Still, given how many people use cell phones in the world, it's important to keep an eye on possible harms, Kheifets said. She recommends limiting exposure to radiation through the use of hands-free devices.

soundoff (840 Responses)
  1. Common Sense

    It's hard for me to believe that having a strong and constant electromagetic field next to a still developing brain has no influence on its development.

    December 7, 2010 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noocrat

      Probably should move to Mars then. Kind of hard to avoid something the Earth itself surrounds us with.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
    • Blah Blah

      Couldn't be the fact that the kids are dying for attention and need their self absorbed parents to put down the phone and ask them how they are doing?!

      December 7, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
    • Nick Thompson

      This is silly. Of course if you're always on your cell phone your kids are going to have issues because YOU as the parent aren't focusing on them and giving them what they need, be it attention, discipline, or love. I'd also be curious to know what the procedure was, i.e. how a behavioral problem is defined.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Behavioral problems due to cell phone, thats silly..... .more then likely is that if you are on the phone hours of the day you are not paying attention to your baby. If a baby is not getting enough attention that could lead to hyper activity...

      December 7, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl

      I agree with Blah Blah, you can't just arbitrarily rule out that it could be the mother is talking on it too frequently without also drawing the conclusion that she would CONTINUE to do so even as the child is developing outside of the womb. If mom and dad are not paying attention to their child, and instead play on their iphones and androids etc all the time then a kid WILL act out just to get attention. No kid wants to play second fiddle to a stupid piece of plastic that mom would rather talk to than her kids.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      @ Noocrat – I'm senstive to high EMF's. I get dizzy & itchy from it. It depends on how much is being emitted and how long I am exposed to it. I'm curious now. I have an EMF detector at home and am wondering how high the reading would be next to my cell phone when it's on.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
    • Noocrat


      It's interesting that your body has adapted to tolerate naturally occurring fields and can't tolerate man-made ones. Though there could be a lot of factors involved in that.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • you got problems

      your kids got problems, period.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      Seems more likely that the parent ignoring the kid to talk on her cell phone would be the problem here.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      Well if it was 'strong' you might have a point, but cell phones are pretty damn weak. The cancer link has long been debunked... I am surprised CNN is actually reporting it. For the most part it has gone the way of the vaccine=>autism muck... people had an 'idea', there was a scare, and it failed to pan out scientifically.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The human body is incessantly bombarded by electromagnetic radiation. Consider the power lines alone generating a 60 hertz field, cell phone repeater towers fields in 900 MHZ and gigahertz bands, television receivers with a 15 KHZ field, 60 HZ field as prime radiation fields. Now, add in a cell phone operating at the cell phone tower frequencies, at lower power, but at a closer distance.
      Of greatest import isn't PURELY the frequencies involved, but field strength AND frequency at the cellular level. It's already well proven that terahertz band electromagnetic fields DO cause DNA to literally unzip, exposing it to potential damage. What other frequencies can do that? At what field strength and what frequency is harmful?
      There has been VERY LITTLE study on such things, the research money just isn't there.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • RHEA4ME

      AAAHAHA, love it "blahblahblah"....."couldn't be the fact the kids are dying for attention" I BELIEVE YOU HAVE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD THERE. I'M just really not sure why its not so incredibly obvious to everyone else. Does it really take a genius to figure out?

      December 7, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
    • Popeye

      If you are concerned about electromagnetic fields from your cell phone affecting you or children, then you should really worry about the electromagnetic fields in your home produced by all the electrical wiring in your home. The fields from 110 V AC lines are blast furnaces compared to what a cell phone emits, even when it is being used.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Brrrrr

      In response to BlahBlah...I COMPLETELY agree!!!

      December 7, 2010 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
    • CCR

      Of course using a cell phone constantly could have an effect on a developing child. But this is another way to divert attention away from the real threat children are exposed to... the miriad of innoculations!!! Wake up America! Don't be so stupid! If you are worried about cell phone signals you should be 1000 times more concerned about what is in the shots you have forced upon your children!!

      December 7, 2010 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
    • George Wisegreek

      Please GOOGLE "Mercola cell phones" and read the many fantastic articles, many with links, that prove close in cell phone RF radiation is damaging in some regards. People don't realize that there is a huge exponential difference between RF or electromagnetic energy UP-CLOSE to the body, as compared to it at a distance. Amateur Radio operators, RF engineers, and FCC experts have been aware of the potential harm RF energy can wreak on the body in the form of direct burns and/or radiation damage. Wake up simpletons! And please do not comment if you are not knowledgeable on the subject.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:06 | Report abuse |
    • dirkK

      Have we stopped to consider that is isn't exposure to the cell phones, but exposure to the distracted obnoxious parents that need to constantly have their cell phone that is creating kids like this?

      December 7, 2010 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
    • Lilfeather

      At least I know it is not my fault for my kids' behavior. It is the phone's fault. A few years ago it was the television under scrutiny.

      Another excuse, another crutch, another way society is taking away the personal responsibility of individuals. Is there any wonder people are as screwed up as they are? We have not only allowed it – we have encouraged it. I bet the hardworking Americans' tax dollars helped fund this "study". Wake up America!

      December 7, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • Tim H

      Yes, it could be argued that a woman yapping on the phone could mean she would ignore her kid as a parent. IF this were the case, then in the past before cellphones the same percentage of kids would have behavioral problems, it seems to be increasing. To say that electromagnetic fields do not have a an effect on a developing child because the earth is surrounded by one is kind of short sited, as electromagnetic fields come in a broad spectrum. It has been proven in studies that electromagnetic waves in the Hz range of radiowaves to microwaves effect bird migrations. It is also suspected that cell towers are responsible for colony collapse disease in bees. So, if EMF's affect the birds and the bees, how does it not affect a developing child that is going through cellular replication at a higher rate.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      It's sad to see how many parents push their kids around in strollers while yapping on the phone, instead of interacting with their children.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
    • The field

      It is known for much longer that certain pulse modulations can cause physiological or psychological changes.
      It was only not known in the wider publicity.The only option to avoid risks of radiation is to get rid of radiation sources. It does not give any special benefits to mankind except for more stress and reduction of real social contact, cable communications are quite sufficient.

      December 18, 2010 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
  2. Gary B

    ADHD is strongly genetic. Frequent cell phone users may be more impulsive (can't wait to see you. Have to call you now!). They would pass this genetic tendency on to their offspring.

    December 7, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hmmmmmm

      @Gary B: ADHD's not genetic, it's behavioral. Those "impulsive" tendencies are not genetic at all but rather are behaviors that have been modeled by parents to their children and then, consequently, imitated by those children. It's called TEACHING and that's why everybody and their mother is going to get diagnosed with ADHD. If I had to pick an adjective to describe it, I'd have to say that the darn thing is popular! Oh yeah, that's right...it's really convenient to be able to blame your lack of discipline and adaptive skills on something genetic that has to be treated by medicine. Give me a break! These mothers are just modeling what you could call "compulsive" behaviors for their children (probably because they're all over Facebook and Twitter and never focus on just one thing at a time or at least one thing for a longer amount of time). This country is just getting dumber and dumber!

      December 7, 2010 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • Milidad

      For those that say that ADHD is a parenting issue, and not a medical issue. I guess I'm just an amazing parent to two of my kids... and a lousy parent to the third. I discipline the two non-ADHD kids just the right amount, and I don't discipline the ADHD child enough.

      And it wasn't the Vyvanse that made a difference, I stopped parenting her differently, and I started parenting her and disciplining her like I do my other two children.

      December 7, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • RW

      @ Hmmmmm

      Your points are all true – except the part about 'getting dumber'.

      People with ADHD are often times highly intelligent. It is due to their highly active brains. These highly active brains are also why it's hard for them to focus on just one thing.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor


      Yes ADHD is overdiagnosed. However, it is a real genetic condition (that can be paseed on to your offspring) that affects the brain. And some people who do have it, have it to varying degrees. Some are more severe than others. The less severe cases have found ways to manage their ADHD without drugs. Those who have it severely as adults use medication as a last resort.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Most people who criticize ADHD are highly uneducated about it. MMMMMMM

      December 7, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Howie

      There is no such thing as ADHD. Just another made up disease to get people to spend money on drugs they don't need. Some kids are more energetic than others. Every kid is a challenge. Public schools do not properly train teachers to handle the wide range of kids they will encounter. Also too many kids are assigned to each teacher. So, when a particularly active child is in the classroom, the teacher tends to want to drug the kid to maintain control of the classroom. STOP DRUGGING YOUR KIDS! Just let them be themselves.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • dragonhunter21

      Behavioral problems aren't usually treated with medicine. Also, there's definitely something wired backwards in ADHD brains- stimulants help them concentrate, not make them hyper, which is why Ritalin is an amphetamine.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • eva68

      @hmmm... Either you are kidding or know nothing about children and ADHD. There are some things that are related to ADHD that don't necessarily get passed on in all these articles, so if you are basing this erroneous information on whether a kids runs around a lot and misbehave when they want to as being evidence, you have seriously missed the boat on this one. I have 4 children and a stepchild. My stepchild and one of my daughters have this disorder. They did not live together at all, but yet their behaviors are mirror images of one another. One of these traits is the inability to finish a sentence, another is picking at everything on their body (they don't talk about that much huh?)..oh, and there is so much more. Is it over diagnosed? yep, probably, but real ADHD has nothing to do with a mimic behavior. Sorry, you are just wrong.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • Candi

      @Hmmmmmmm – you are so very, very wrong. ADHD does, in fact, have genetic causes. If it was simply behavior related, then you would not be able to see it on brain scans. Do some research before you start bashing parents of ADHD children. You have no clue. Jerk.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • Candi

      @Howie – "There is no such thing as ADHD. Just another made up disease to get people to spend money on drugs they don't need. Some kids are more energetic than others." Never been around a kid with ADHD have you? Oh, well – someday, my gifted ADHD son who is on medication and behavior therapy will probably be a physician taking care of the likes of you. Maybe he'll just say, "It's not cancer – it's in your head. You don't need medication. Must have been because your mother didn't love you." I'm so sick of people like you who think they know it all. If you're so smart, you would actually research ADHD before you spew very inaccurate information and make generalizations you know nothing about.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Know the issue

      Message to Hmmmmmmm,

      FYI – ADHD is proven to be a genetic trait. Situational and behavior experience can heighten the impact of the trait. However, for 95% of those with ADHD, the trait can be handled as long as it is managed properly (it just requires more education on how to manage and live with it).

      December 7, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Howie

      I repeat, ADHD is BS! There is nothing wrong with these kids, they are just different. Usually they are simply smarter than their peers, and as a result can't stay focused on 'see dick run' because they should be reading Moby Dick. I know several people, kids, adults, and some I have known since we were kids and are now adults. In every case, the meds RUIN them. Properly taught, kids who fit the profile for ADHD could all be super achievers. Unfortunately, teachers (and many parents) have no idea how to handle these children, and instead give them pharmaceuticals to dull their brains and bring them down to the level of the masses. I got lucky. Teachers wanted to drug me throughout childhood. My mom was a hero and wouldn't allow it. I struggled socially, and when not properly taught academically. Fortunately I had a few excellent teachers who demonstrated that when properly guided I could excel. Valedictorian, perfect (1600) SAT, 4.0 GPA. Gainfully employed. No Drugs!

      December 7, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • Candi

      @Howie – congrats. You have just laid out all the misnomers that parents of and kids with ADHD constantly face. I "drug" my son so that a) he can succeed to his full potential (he's being tested for the Gifted/Talented program later in his 2nd grade year) and b) so that he doesn't grow up with a crappy self-esteem. These poor kids are constantly being told to stop behaviors that they cannot control. Some of these, yes, teachers need to learn to deal with – such as the need to move around – but others are not socially acceptable and interfere with a teacher's ability to effectively run a classroom (my son tends to hum and make lots of noises). As a realist, I know that schools cannot afford to create special classes for these kids and, because many are highly intelligent, they shouldn't be placed in special ed. What do you suggest? I also know my son and want the best for him. He takes medication daily and sees a counselor monthly. He understands what ADHD is and that the medication is like glasses for his brain: it slows down his racing mind, allows him to process and use all that creativity and enables him to pay attention to his surroundings in a more effective way (as in, not running across a busy street and getting creamed by a car because of an impluse). His self-esteem has drastically improved since he was diagnosed and he is a much happier child with lots of friends this year. He knows he has loving parents that want him to succeed and be happy because we talk to him and ask him what helps and what we can do. He has not been turned into a zombie, in fact, he's a much more responsive person. You said yourself that you struggled socially. I'd rather have my kids succeed both acedemically and socially. I'm waiting for the day he overhears some creep talking about how horrible his parents must be based on the off-base assumptions and generalizations people make about ADHD kids. Not sure what I'll do...but I can imagine.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor


      That's two strikes.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      I think it is all of the above!

      December 7, 2010 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Kwame M. Brown

      @Hmmm. ADHD DOES potentially have a genetic component. There are many causes of the incidence rising, including but not limited to: genetic influence, environmental influences (like social structure, habits, educational constructs, nutrition, play deprivation), and overdiagnosis.

      Please make sure you know what you are talking about before you make blanket sweeping statements. There are a myriad of associations and potential causes present here. (BTW, my PHD is in developmental neuroscience).

      Here, the cause of the behavioral problems is MUCH more likely to be the inattentiveness and behavioral modeling by the parent vs. some idiopathic diffuse radiation caused damage.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  3. Barbara

    Yes, they cause behavioral problems. People lose their manners. And of course there is no other maternal behavior of any kind that co-occurs with cell phone use.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • angie


      December 7, 2010 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
  4. Dr. Mama

    Hmmm. Tough to figure the real significance of this as cell phone usage has become so ubiquitous. At least 4x a day? Could mom have forgotten a few calls ... or overestimated? Seems to me just being a child causes 'behavioral problems'.


    December 7, 2010 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Rick McDaniel

    The real behavioral changes, occur with using cell phones. Just stand in any public place, and watch the people. It is obvious.

    December 7, 2010 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Robert

    My daughter in law is continuously on her cell phone and the kids are brats. I do not believe that the cell phone is the direct problem though. My daughter in law is too busy to properly parent her children, she is able to "tune them out" and let them drive everyone within 100 feet mad. This is quite common, my daughter in law is not doing anything different than many of the young parents I encounter in public. In short lack of parenting skills not cell phones.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • hmm

      ...and what is your son doing?

      December 7, 2010 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
    • songbird

      SO true Robert!! I've seen this same thing many many times. At home its parents either absorbed in a stupid soap-opera or reality show, on the computer or on their cell phones as well as outside of the home...while the kids do whatever they want. We are an overly distracted society these days.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • Seph

      And where is their father during all of this????

      December 7, 2010 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Young Parent

      Robert, apparently you have never encountered me in public, because I am both young and an attentive parent. I've noticed that when parents have well-behaved children in public, most people don't notice because the children are not attracting attention. When parents have ill-behaved children in public, everybody notices and then grumpy old folks like yourself lump us all into the same category of "lacks parenting skills." Next time you eat out, look around and find the table with quiet, well-behaved children, and thank their parents for teaching them manners.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • Geoffrey Sperl

      And your son is doing...? You can't blame this solely on your daughter-in-law if your son isn't being involved with the kids. Perhaps, instead of going onto an internet bulletin board to compalin about her, you really should sit down and talk with your son about what you've observed.

      But, as you said, it's all a question of parenting skills, isn't it?

      December 7, 2010 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Young Parent, that's great – congratulations! Now, when you're out in public with your children, how much of the time are you on your cell phone?? And how much time do you spend actually communicating with them, noticing or correcting their behavior? Do you see that Robert is suggesting there could be a correlation between these things?

      December 7, 2010 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
  7. Cell Numbed

    Even Wifi has this issue in part by microwave oven and lower satellite frequencies and at 5 gz and above, even worse or unknown. Below 1 gz and below (tv freq to am radio) not much mentioned on health issues there except in the old days with power transmission towers leaking high em doses in adjoining neighbourhoods in the area.
    Plus nobody argues if this energy is affecting the child's soul or not and the mother to be as well.
    Who knows for real past this.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howie

      Did you actually just reference a "soul"? As if there were such a thing? Isn't this a science blog?

      December 7, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • jesuguru

      Howie, relax. Even devout secularists are usually able to observe or use the term "soul" without necessarily ascribing religious, anti-scientific connotation to it.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • We are killing ourselves with technology

      Howie, shut up and sit down. You atheist morons are so sensitive.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
  8. Pambra's

    I have twin boys age 16, Used no cell phoone while pregnant with them. One uses a cell phone given by his friends and the other does not. I find the one with a cell phone does have more problems with getting in trouble. He spends more time being in cahoots with his friends, and way too much time texting. They are both popular in school and play high school football and play 7 musical instruments self taught, they are smart boys.. but given a cell phone too long does lead to more behavior issues

    December 7, 2010 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Geoffrey Sperl

      That's access to the cell phone mixed with a teenager's mind. There's nothing biological or chemical going on there (well, if girls are involved, then there might be a wish of something biological and chemical to be going on...).

      December 7, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
  9. misslyss

    Do any of you think the behavioral problems of children are due to kids being more spoiled today than what they ever used to be? Both parents are working and don't have enough time to spend with their kids so they make up for that by giving the kids anything they want. I think it's the parents causing this, not cell phones.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cherries

      I agree with you. I've had kids at my house that parents say are hyperactive and disobedient. Well, they are not that way at my house. I don't allow it. I think the reason they are behaved at my house is we have backbones. They can have fun and play lots, but they also do as they are told.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
  10. J

    Go to any park in the US and you can see the problem. The parents that spend the entire time on their phones rather than engaged with their kids have the kids that run wild and have no manners. Wow, that's shocking.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tractrix

      "Go to any park in the US and you can see the problem. The parents that spend the entire time on their phones rather than engaged with their kids have the kids that run wild and have no manners."

      A generation ago it was NOT the parents' role to "engage" or entertain their children, especially at a playground or park! Kids used to be allowed to go to playgrounds and parks on their own, while dad was at work and mom was at home cooking dinner. So by your reasoning, parents in the 50s, 60s, and 70s (and obviously every generation before) created hyper brats because they weren't within 12" of their kids at all times?

      I'm so sick of people attacking moms for talking on the phone to other adults rather than play hide 'n' seek or tag with children all day. The role of the parent is NOT to be the child's friend or playmate. Mothers have every right to talk to their friends on the phone while their kids play. When I was a kid, this is what all the moms did, just on a land line and not a cell phone. Nobody said they were neglecting their children and turning them into hyper brats. Kids need discipline, sure, and some kids are out of control in public and their parents don't do anything about it. But in my experience, most parents do their very best. It's not easy in today's parenting culture when everything your child does is supposedly a reflection on YOU and not on the child himself.

      My opinion is the opposite of most of the knee-jerk responses here: if in fact kids' behavior is worse today than in the past, it's because the parents are hovering TOO MUCH. Kids never learn anything the hard way–natural consequences–anymore because moms are expected to be RIGHT THERE at all times solving all the problems, correcting all the bad behavior, etc. When I was a kid, if you acted like a jerk at the playground, the other kids didn't want to play with you. So you learned not to act like a jerk. But now that kids aren't allowed to go to playgrounds on their own because everybody's so scared of the boogeyman, mom handles all the child's social issues. I think kids would behave better if moms dropped them off at the playground and WENT HOME. Let the kids learn how to behave from each other, without a gaggle of helicopter moms there. But, alas, if moms allow their kids to do things on their own (of if she dares to talk on her telephone to a friend), they are considered bad and neglectful. This is a new concept that I do not think existed before the 1980s.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • Isuzan

      I totally agree with tractrix; I grew up in the 60's and 70's and we were MUCH more well mannered than today's kids. We were kicked out in the morning, told to "Go play until the streetlights came on". Kids wandered the neighborhood, the parks, etc. and there were no parents in sight unless someone broke a leg. I don't think we do our children any favors being helicopter parents; in fact, I try to give them as much freedom as possible (without being reported by the helicopter-parent police).

      This kind of hovering is a new-fangled idea of raising children and it has made children helpless in dealing with their own problems. For example, you are not allowed to hand out birthday invitations at school unless you hand them out to EVERYONE in the class. The reasoning I'm told is that they don't want some children to have hurt feelings over not being invited to a party. Ok, if we don't work with our children to handle disappointments early in life, it's no wonder they are intolerant, mean and rude later in life because they simply cannot deal with life.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
    • J

      You are right to some degree. I was actually thinking of younger kids because that's the ones I'm with. I am pretty much the only parent at the park that pushes my little guy on the swing without talking on the phone or texting at the same time. Can't people even push a 2 year old on a swing without having to be focused elsewhere? I mean my 7 & 10 y/o kids go to the park by themselves, they don't need me there. But when I'm with my little guy, I'm actually there. I really don't see that with the other parents.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse |

    kids are lazier than they ever have been. gee get the little s**ts off the couch and out side doing stuff and this problem will decrease. not rocket science. human race is all becoming big wusses!

    December 7, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • S

      100% agree.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • songbird

      I think most teens are lazy to some degree and since the age of TV and electronics, it has gotten more so.... why go out and play when we can stay in where its warm in winter & cool in summer....and meet friends online...? This has been a gradual social evolution......parents have to work harder than ever to get them involved in activities out of the home.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • idlehands

      I do not think that kids are lazy. Between school, sports, clubs and homework there is little time during the day for anything else. My kids' day starts at 6am and ends at about 11pm (sometimes later if there is more homework). I also think that the overuse of electronics is directly linked to the parents. If a parent doesn't set limits and guidelines for their child/teen then they will not know how to manage their life when they are on their own. If a parent thinks that their kid is lazy, take away his/her electronics and give them a chore or a job to do and then they will will learn to focus. Just taking away the "toy" is not going to help them, it needs to be replaced with something productive.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  12. Howie

    "There is also no way to know whether the mothers were telling the truth about the amount of cell phone time they had. It's impossible to tell from this research whether cell phone exposure really causes behavioral problems." So basically, there is no evidence of anything, we just like to speculate that something must be really really bad about cell phones. What a bunch of crap! I support science, but this study was a complete waste of money.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Joe in Colorado

    Well, if the mother is on the phone that much– SHE has a behavioral problem. Which will likely translate to her kid having one as well.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe in Colorado

      Furthermore, my guess is that they didn't compare being on a cell phone 4 times a day to being on a landline 4 times a day. Sounds like they only compared being on a cell phone 4 times a day to not.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
  14. dgmgdm

    maybe the study is causing the problem. look for a problem you will find one half the time.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. wow

    This is probably the worst article I have ever read, along with the mysteries science has yet to prove. The problem is parents ignoring their kids to talk on cell phones, playing games on the computer, playing video games, watching tv when the kid just runs around the house getting into everything. Kids simply do not get enough attention these days, so they need to make up for it in other areas. I applaud you parents that actually are not selfish and spend quality time with your kids. Relating any of these problems to cell phone use is just absurd, it's the negligence that comes along with it.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. battycamel

    This is interesting but until there is a study conducted involving lab rats or monkeys it clearly won't prove anything.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. thatsjarrod

    Its simple really. Instead of parenting and paying attention to their kids the selfish mom's are too busy talking on the phone to their idiot friends and texting whatever moron they met at the bar over the weekend. Hence the kids lash out, desperate for structure and attention, looking for the same type of love that mom shows her new iphone. If you touch your phone more than your child you suck as a parent.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. dragonhunter21

    If cell phones caused problems, so would EMF from computer monitors, wifi routers, radios, power lines, and every other thing on Earth that creates an electroamgnetic field.

    If it's that big an issue, move out deep into the country. Space wouldn't help becasue of all the EM radiation released from the sun.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RUSH

    Aww heck, lets just use this as an excuse to not have any kids for 2011-2015.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. E.Ham

    Cell phone addiction is destroying normal human interaction. I cannot imagine why anyone feels the need to spend their entire day calling everyone they know to talk about every trivial they are (or will be) doing.

    Garrison Keillor once characterized one side of a typical cell phone conversation as follows:

    "Hi, it's me." "I'm here." "I'll be there in ten minutes."

    I have a cell phone that I carry strictly for use in a roadside emergency or for a breakdown. I never answer or use it while the car is in motion or in the traffic lane. I find that there is very little in the way of information that I have that cannot be transferred face-to-face, by note, letter, email or regular land-line phone call to whomever needs it.

    I am particularly irritated by those arrogant folks who walk around with a Bluetooth earbud, talking, often quite loudly, to some other nuddlehead. If RF emissions damage the brain, at least these idiots will be the first to go.

    I am sure that cell phones do damage the kids. They are abused kids by virtue of parental neglect, mom being to busy updating the person she had lunch with ten minutes ago.

    "Marge, Marge!" "Something forgot to tell you at lunch." "Do you remember that red blouse I told you I was going to buy when I called you earlier?" "Well, guess what? I didn't buy it."

    December 7, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seph

      Some people are required to carry a cell phone for work. And even after their work day is done they are still “on call” and thus they must carry their cell phone home with them. My job description says that I must be available 24-7 while I am on call. This is not something that I can get away from. However, when I am in public I do excuse myself and try to find somewhere out of the way to take my call.

      I do other things to keep my kids healthy and safe – no fast food or caffeine, balanced diet, regular dr/dentist/vision checkups, quality time with mom & dad, etc.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • abbyful

      I'm in my 20s and the vast majority of my friends and family members don't even have land-line phones any more! Myself included, my cell phone is my only phone.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
  21. emptysky

    I've seen it over and over again at the playground... mom or dad spends all their time on the phone ignoring the kid. I saw one child come up and try to hit my child repeatedly, finally dad hung up the phone, picked him up and gave him a long "we don't hit people" speech. He put the kid down and he played fine with dad watching, then dad started with the phone again... a few minutes later, kid is hitting someone else after checking first to make sure that dad is watching. Again dad hangs up and picks the kid up to keep him from hitting. The only time he would get off the phone to even talk to his kid is when the kid was doing something wrong. Is it any wonder he was misbehaving?

    December 7, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cherries

      To emptysky: you sound like you showed considerable restraint. I would have layed that guy out!

      December 7, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      What a sad story. I'm sure Dad was too distracted with whatever conversations he was having to notice a pattern...

      December 7, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  22. Loren

    Here's a thought, the child's behavioral issues are a genetic result of the mother's own behavioral problems. While there might not be a family history, the excessive use of a cell phone may reflect the mother's own self-centered behavior, which leads to insufficient interaction during the child's development and the child's response to insufficient attention is the failure to learn proper behavioral norms. One need only look at the behaviors exhibited by poor where parents are consumed with survival rather than child-rearing to see similar behavioral results in children. Before assuming technology is the problem, look for the simpler solution, the parents.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      Exactly. It's not the phones, it's what people do with them! If you're so distractable you have to be talking or texting all the time and ignoring your children, there will be problems!

      December 7, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
  23. Loren

    It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes to parent to mess them up forever.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. iworkwithphones

    biggest bull i have ever heard in my life. its called parents who think their phones more important then their kid should not be a parent end of story

    December 7, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. ApeHanger

    I see. Let's blame an electronic device for human problems. Makes as much sense as installing a sun roof in the space shuttle. How about if we point the finger at the real culprits: mommy and daddy, who are too wrapped up in themselves to properly care for their offspring.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Brian

    Where was this study conducted, 1990? (lol). I don't know anyone that uses their cell phones less than 4 times per day–where the heck did they find the control group? I also don't know anyone that turns their cell phones off (other than on planes).

    December 7, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      Some people don't even realize how much they are on their phones ...they might have had about 4 conversations that they can remember. That, or they said they used it less than they did because they have a sneaking feeling they're on their phone too much.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Name: (required)

      thank you brian!! im reading evry1 elses response about how evry1 is ruining their lives by being obsorbed into their fones, n im getting this vibe tht any1 who uses their fone mor thn twice a day or for emergencies tht they r addicted. Well guess wht pple?! about EVERY1 w a cell phone uses it more thn TWICE a day!! IT DOESNT MEAN UR ADDICTED...! this is bs. we all have friends, especially friends tht live in differents states or counties, and im sure u txt thm, dsnt mean ur addicted! if u txt tht person often, it has nothing 2 do w the fone, just the person. SO EVRY1 CHILL. and if u rlly think ur addicted, LIVE UR LIFE and get off ur fones. and for all thse pple tht yell or think badly of other pple (especially older adults 2 teens!) bcuz we r on our fones, stop telling us we r addicted. addiction is a serious mental case treated w counseling and doctors, n nobody wants 2 b tld they r addicted 2 an electronic. thnk u so much. tht rlly POs me.

      December 7, 2010 at 21:11 | Report abuse |
  27. Ummm

    I think the correlation between cell phones and children with behavioral problems is simple... Maybe if mom put down the phone and paid attention to her child, the child wouldn't have social/behavioral problems. Kids tend to act out for attention.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ram it

      It's not just the mom's that need to put the phone down. Dad's need to as well. I've got a friend who's husband is on the phone more than she is with BS stuff and he expects her to watch his kid. (his kid from 1st marriage) Actually she's never on the phone unless the two are apart and he can't stop texting or calling her. Dads and moms need to put the phones down and raise their children.

      December 7, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  28. Average Joe

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jason

    Way to totally screw up correlation and causality. I full believe that exessive cell phone use and misbehaving kids are correlated, but you're missing the obvious answer.

    Moms who spend all day talking/texting are paying less attention to their children. Holy epiphany! Stop playing Angry Birds or updating your FB profile, put down the phone, and pay attention to your children. You might just see positive results.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. George Wisegreek

    There is a HUGE difference between close-in and far away RF exposure. Distance is a safety net. Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) operators have known this and been saying this for decades, which is why they attempt to distance themselves from all that RF energy. Even the FCC has rules and laws whereby Ham Radio operators must keep a certain distance between their transmitting antennas and their bodies. It's common sense. Also keep in mind, the higher you go in frequency, the more prone to cell damage RF energy is. Cell phones operate at the UHF (ultrahigh frequency) range, which approaches microwaves! Think about it!

    December 7, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cpw789

      I work with young women and I see them texting, or looking something up on line, with the phone resting on their abdomens the whole time. (The men seem to hold the phones closer to their faces, or resting on a table.) It would be strange if it did not impact developing fetuses, not strange if it does.

      Human characteristics are often determined by environment and genetics. Most of us know this because we know that being genetically predisposed to cancer does not mean a 100% chance of getting cancer. It makes cancer more likely but it alone does not cause it. The same can be said for a broad range of handicaps ADHD, autism, some types of deafness, etc..

      Parents can develop skills that allows them to have a better relationship with a child with ADHD. Parents can learn to help their child with ADHD find the correct environment for success. The parents can get meds for their children to see if they work. But parents cannot cause ADHD by talking with their friends, and ADHD is not caused by a lack of parental limits. It can be hard for those who do not carefully observe a child with ADHD to tell the difference between a child with ADHD and a child with behavioral issues, but there is a difference.

      December 7, 2010 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
  31. Lizard

    Maybe it's because mom is too distracted to pay attention to her kid and they are acting out to try to win it back. I know the article said that this was controlled for, but really, how do you control for that?

    December 7, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Al

    Ouch. Any self-report study is extremely unreliable. Whoever decided to report the findings here is either ignorant of typical research standards, or simply irresponsible. The behavior problems exhibited by children of women who are constantly using the phone is very easy to explain. It has nothing to do with cell phone exposure at all. The children are behaving in an unwanted manner because they have learned that if they want their mother to get off the phone and give them attention, all they have to do is misbehave. If the mothers provided sufficient attention in other situations, or if the mothers would not allow the child's behavior to get them to stop talking on the phone (thereby teaching the child that this misbehaving will not result in attention), then the child would exhibit more desired behavior. Simple behavioral principles explain the misbehaving. To a child, even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. sarah

    This is ridiculous. Almost all mothers have cell phones these days. This is like saying, "A new study has emerged. It has been found that mothers that use cars have more children with behavioral problems."

    December 7, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. mattmattmchugh

    I suspect this has nothing to do with electro-magnetic radiation but the child-rearing habits of cellphone-addicted parents,

    December 7, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Matt

    /facepalm. Again?! How many times are stupid people going to make this stupid argument in this stupid country? Anyone? Just looking for a rough number. 10? 20? 100? Bueller?

    December 7, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tim

    I am not sure this proves anything, except that we are spending millions to do studies that prove nothing. Note: early cell phones had a much stronger analog signal, than the digital phones we use now. Making this study more worthless.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Crys

    Of course kids whose parents use cell phones have more behavioral problems. That is because the parents are so busy talking, texting, checking email, etc that they don't seem to have the time to properly look after and teach their children. Put the damn phone down and raise your kids already! Of course if you do this, your kids will behavior better because they have your attention. Try being present with your kids rather than feeding your addiction to small electronic devices.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Riptide80

    I'm sure there's more of a correlation of parents who are continually on the phone while raising children, vice the electromagnetic impact.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jon

    Its all bs. The only way that i could ever believe this is because of parenting. The mothers are taking care of the kids dont give them the needed attention unless they act out. Problem solved the cause of the behavioral problems is bad parenting.

    December 7, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ram it


      December 7, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
    • Cherries

      I agree with Ram it. Fathers can chip in anytime!

      December 7, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
  40. LEB

    So in other words, this is just yet another half-baked study to give mothers one more thing to feel guilty about, and to add fuel to technophobic fires. Did anyone happen to think that those 10% of children who use cell phones more may live in families where cell phones are the only phones? A lot of people have gotten rid of their land lines altogether.

    December 7, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      If parents were on the landline phone all the time it wouldn't be ideal for their parenting either..! I use my cellphone when I really have a reason and I'm convinced that the majority of peoples' calls/texts are "just because it's there"! I don't need to fill the silence every minute when I'm shopping or driving, sorry!

      December 7, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  41. It is always the mom's fault...

    I love how everything is the mom's fault...if this analysis was really accurate; wouldn't fathers also contribute to the problem (provided they spent any time with their kids)?

    December 7, 2010 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Josie

    Actually ADHD and ADD are a mixture of different things...I'm ADD, my husband is ADHD...by the way we both grew up with disclipline (sp) and a good structured home. My son is more like his dad and is growing up with the same type of structure, he's learning and it's a struggle but he is adjusting without the meds his father was on at first. I don't know about cell-phone usage and kids. More and more homes are like my place and even my parents where they had gotten rid of their land-lines a long time ago and all of us use just cell phones. In my case, I might get a call once a day, on other days none. It's not hard to ignore a phone call and call back later....people are hooked on cell-phones and therefore they don't spend much time with the kids. These kids probably sit in front of a t.v. or video-game for hours, not allowing them to just run and play! Studies like this don't show all the factors of a kids life...so why bother. You want a kid whose "ADHD" to calm down, let him or her go outside for about an hour, use their imagination and play, join them even! Then you have a calmer kid, a happy kid, and ironically I bet the parent will be ten times more relaxed and in a good mood themselves.

    December 7, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Stan840

    quote:George Wisegreek

    There is a HUGE difference between close-in and far away RF exposure. Distance is a safety net. Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) operators have known this and been saying this for decades, which is why they attempt to distance themselves from all that RF energy. Even the FCC has rules and laws whereby Ham Radio operators must keep a certain distance between their transmitting antennas and their bodies. It's common sense. Also keep in mind, the higher you go in frequency, the more prone to cell damage RF energy is. Cell phones operate at the UHF (ultrahigh frequency) range, which approaches microwaves! Think about it!

    As a former electronics technician that has worked on equipment that transmitted RF energy,I agree, it was common knowledge to stay back from transmitting antennas.granted a cell phone is only 2-3 watts but think of it this way, it may take a more powerful RF transmission to effect a adult,but a fetus is a lot more delicate thing.So i would think if someone is pregnant they should definitely prevent long time cell phone up close to the body.I myself try not to leave my phone in my pockets for long periods of time.I would not sleep with a cellphone under your pillow.Just my pesonal opinion thanks

    December 7, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. DoesNoOneThinkAnymore

    Is everyone missing something here? Could it be that the mother's that spend so much time on the cell phone are ignoring their children and that is causing the behavior problems. Before cell phones every mother knew once she got on the phone the kids would act up. Now we take phones with us everywhere because we are all so self important that we can't be away from them and miss a call let alone actually take time for the children we have brought into the world. Heck just give them a cell phone and plop them in front of the TV and our jobs as parents are done. If they misbehave well it must be a medical condition.

    December 7, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Kate

    I've seen these poor kids out with their parents-both Mom and Dad glued to their cell phones as the kids try to get their attention. Is it any wonder the kids develop behaviorial problems? Since when is a text or e-mail or checking your Facebook page more important that listening to what happened to your child that day? There's no eye contact, no listening, no touching. God help us in 20 years!

    December 7, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. TrudyBird

    Look... all anyone has to do is go into a grocery store. You will see a mother on her cell phone with 2 little ones in the cart and one or two running crazy through the store. Children are attention starved now days. There are too many Mom's out there yaking away and ignoring their children who need to be taught manners and social interaction... but then maybe the mother's need the same lessons. What a world!

    December 7, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ram it


      December 7, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Yes you almost nailed it ...and the Dads are just as bad.

      December 7, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  47. bombness

    texting has changed a lot especially in the social behavior.
    Even students and other people are gettting bulliede through the phone, text, even picture messages !

    December 7, 2010 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. KAK

    maybe the mothers are the ones with behavioral problem

    December 7, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Jed

    Near the end of the article: "It's impossible to tell from this research whether cell phone exposure really causes behavioral problems." Leading with that might have saved some bits.

    December 7, 2010 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. TheMovieFan

    Just what these cellphone mothers deserve.

    December 7, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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