Wales

Children urged to 'text not call' by medical chief

Young people texting
Image caption Children are advised to text rather than make calls on mobile phones

Schoolchildren are being urged to text rather than call on their mobiles, in new safety advice by the chief medical officer for Wales.

Dr Tony Jewell also advises them to use a hands-free kit if possible and keep conversations short when calling.

While research indicated that mobile phones did not cause health problems, more work was still to be done, said Dr Jewell.

"It is always better to be safe than sorry," he said.

The Welsh Assembly Government said two bilingual leaflets, available electronically, offer young people and their parents precautionary guidance on mobile phone use.

The leaflets have been developed with the input of health professionals and children.

One leaflet is aimed at primary school children and the other at secondary school pupils.

There is no current evidence that the radio waves used by mobile phones to send and receive signals are linked to health problems, the chief medical officer said.

But his advice for children is to limit their exposure in case any health concerns are found in the future.

The leaflets also offer advice on how children can avoid mobile phone theft and what to do if they receive unwanted texts or calls on their mobiles.

"Protecting the health of the young people of Wales is a priority," said Dr Jewell.

"We don't expect young people to stop using mobile phones altogether, but there are a few simple steps they can take to protect their health for the future."

Health Minister Edwina Hart said there had been an interest for information to be made available for children on mobile phones and their health.

"These leaflets, which children across Wales helped shape, provide guidance on safe mobile phone use," she explained.

"The precautionary advice has been put in an easy and understandable language and format for children and young people."

Guidance on the use of mobile phones was issued in 2000 and updated in 2005 on a UK-wide basis.

The World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer will review the potential of mobile phones to cause cancer as part of a major regular comprehensive review in May 2011.

A European Union-funded project, MobiKids, will also investigate the risk of brain tumours from mobile phone use in childhood and adolescence.

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