Are we being dumb with smartphones?

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 7:03 PM ET

Millions of Canadians are glued to their cellphones - some even crawl into bed next to their devices. But should we be seeking distance in these increasingly close relationships?

In 2011, the World Health Organization's cancer wing classified the radiation from all wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic and called for more research.

This classification put cellphone radiation - and radiation from other wireless devices and Wi-Fi - in the same category as other possible carcinogens such as car exhaust.

"This classification from an independent group should be taken very seriously," said Dr. Devra Davis, an American scientist who runs the non-profit group Environmental Health Trust.

Canada now suggests parents should encourage kids under 18 to cap cellphone use, even as other countries, such as Israel, have taken a more aggressive approach, passing a law to demand warning labels for devices.

While questions surround the research, how can consumers take basic precautionary steps? Here are some tips from researchers.

1. Slash length of cellphone calls, use a headset, put devices on speaker phone and use a landline when possible.

Cellphone manufacturers Blackberry and Apple both feature print warnings suggesting users should keep all devices at least 15 mm away from their bodies during use.

2. Do not snuggle up to your phone at night.

If you need to use your phone as an alarm clock, it can be put in airplane mode. Blackberries also automatically turn on at a set time when an alarm is set.

3. Keep devices out of your pocket and always away from your privates.

In a report in the venerable medical journal Fertility and Sterility, Argentinian scientists reported that laptop computers wirelessly connected to the Internet, positioned near the male reproductive organs can possibly decrease sperm quality.

4. Plug in to the Net when possible.

Network adapters can now turn power outlets into wired Internet hotspots. Researchers say wired connections should be favoured over wireless ones, as the long-term impacts of wireless technology is not yet known.

 


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