Background: The use of mobile phone by children is increasing drastically. Children are likely to accumulate many years of exposure during their lives. Furthermore, as nervous systems in children are developing, children may be at a greater risk compared to adults. In this light, some scientists have suggested that the use of mobile phones should be restricted in high-risk groups such as children. This study is an attempt to explore the pattern of mobile phone use and its health effects among students from the city of Shiraz, Iran.
Methods: A total of 469 (235 males and 234 females; 250 elementary and 219 junior high school) healthy students participated in this study. The students were randomly selected from three different educational districts of the city. For each student, a questionnaire regarding the possible sources of exposure to electromagnetic fields or microwave radiation, specially the pattern of mobile phone use, medical history and life style was filled out by interviewers.
Results: Only 31.42% of the students used to use mobile phones. The average daily time of using mobile phones in talk mode was 7.08±21.42 minutes. Not only the relative frequency of mobile phone ownership in boys was significantly more than the girls, but also the boys used their mobile phones more frequently. Statistically significant associations were found between the time mobile phones were used in talk mode and some symptoms. Furthermore, a statistically significant association was found between the time mobile phones were used in talk mode and the number of headaches per month, number of vertigo per month, or number of sleeping problem per month.
Conclusion: Results obtained in this study show that a large proportion of children in the city of Shiraz use mobile phones. A significant increase was found in some self-reported symptoms among users of mobile phones. These findings are in line with what is widely believed regarding the higher vulnerability of children to exhibit symptoms from using mobile phones. The findings and conclusion of the present study should be viewed in the light the nature of symptoms measurement (self-report) and the knowledge and understandings of the participants about the symptoms.