This new study published by the Universities of California, Los Angeles and Aarhus, Denmark should be taken with a grain of salt. It claims that mothers who use cell phones during their pregnancies may have children who are at higher risk of having behavioral problems.
The thing is, the behavioral problems in question are not be evaluated by a doctor, but reported by mothers in a survey for the study. Though more than 13,000 children were surveyed, that is the first problem with the study. What behavioral issues are we talking about here? The over-diagnosed ADHD that has America’s children swallowing pills before they can drive a car? Kids simply refusing to sit still and obey, which is natural child behavior, as inconvenient as it is for parents and especially other adults impacted by the child who only wish the parent would “control his/her kids”?
As soon as a study starts talking about behavior problems, I get skeptical. Behavior is not an objective issue, as much as some doctors and especially school superintendants might wish it was, and though I think that cell phones might be able to cause other damages to children as well as their parents from radiation (though like many others, I’m not positive about it, nor how much damage could be inflicted), behavior doesn’t seem the likely harm here. I can think of hundreds of other causes to negative behavior we should be focusing on, from domestic violence to mind-numbing television.
But then there’s another part of the study that seems silly to me. If these mothers use their cellular phones so frequently, could their children’s acting out simply be in response to being ignored by their cell phone-crazed mothers? We’ve all heard about the mother who killed her own baby for interrupting her Farmville playing; isn’t it possible that the technology is not to blame for the child’s behavior but instead for the neglectful parents’ behavior?
I couldn’t tell you whether or not cell phone use during pregnancy could mess up your kid, or you, for that matter. But I can tell you that your child definitely deserves more attention than your phone and its apps. I fear that children who are held less and played with less by parents who would rather be connected to their beloved technology may have problems ahead that are much worse than those attributed to their behavior. Perhaps a study should be done about parents who prefer playing mobile games to caring for their children instead.