Entries in Cellphones (15)


Texting Study Shows Women Wear Their Emoticons on Their Sleeves

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON, Texas) -- The folks over at Rice University, having apparently figured out everything else there is to know about everything, have turned their attention to those sometime grating graphic symbols called emoticons that have become an integral part of text messages.

In their must-read study, “A Longitudinal Study of Emoticon Use in Text Messaging from Smartphones,” Rice researchers have concluded that women are twice as likely than men to use the little facial expressions in texts.

The study was a thorough examination of 124,000 texts sent over six months by men and women. Just to make sure the research wasn’t skewed, the participants received free phones but weren't told what the study was about.

What the researchers learned from the cellphone data culled over half-a-year was that all the participants at some point used emoticons in their text messages but that the expressions popped up in just four percent of all the texts sent.

And while as many as 74 emoticons were used over the course of the experiment, the symbols indicating happy, sad and very happy comprised 70 percent of all the emoticons sent.

Besides women using emoticons by a two-to-one margin over men, they were found to be more emotionally expressive in non-verbal communications. However, men use a greater variety of emoticons than women -- whatever that means.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GAO: FCC Needs Better Cell Phone Radiation Tests

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Standards in the U.S. for mobile phone radiation exposure are lacking in comparison to international guidelines and need further review, according to report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  

The GAO Tuesday released a report calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “formally reassess and, if appropriate, change its current RF energy exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations, particularly when phones are held against the body.”

The agency said in the study that the current radiofrequency limits and testing requirements for mobile phones were set in 1996 and may not reflect the latest research.  Furthermore, the GAO says exposure limit recommendations in countries abroad, contrary to the U.S., have been updated in recent years based on new research reflecting new exposure factors.  For example, the FCC does not test for devices being held against the body.

"This new recommended limit could allow for more RF energy exposure, but actual exposure depends on a number of factors including how the phone is held during use. FCC has not adopted the new recommended limit," the agency said in the report.

The report concludes the FCC “cannot ensure it is using” the safest possible limit for cell phone radiation exposure.
But the FCC told GAO that it, "relies on the guidance of federal health and safety agencies when determining the RF energy exposure limit, and to date, none of these agencies have advised FCC to change the limit," the GAO report said.  But the FCC has not formally requested reassessment by these agencies, the agency said.

CTIA, a mobile industry trade group, responded to the requests by GAO congressional Democrats to reassess the current standards, saying, “The FCC recently announced that it will soon begin a review of its safety standards for wireless phones, and that it is confident that its emissions guidelines for wireless devices pose no risk to consumers. CTIA welcomes the Commission's continued careful oversight of this issue.”  

Health organizations and the FCC agree there is no evidence to date linking health issues with the use of mobile devices:

"To date, no adverse effects have been established for mobile phone use." -- World Health Organization

"There is no scientific evidence to date that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other health effects … " -- FCC

" … to date there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radio frequency energy can cause cancer." -- National Cancer Institution

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Distracted Walking: Handhelds Send More and More to Emergency Room

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One woman walked off a pier while texting.  Another strolled into a water fountain. Americans continue to flirt with death as their love affair with smartphones and other electronic devices flourishes, a government agency says.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1,150 people -- a number that has quadrupled in the last seven years -- were treated in emergency rooms in the United States last year after accidents with handhelds.

“I think people aren’t quite aware of how dangerous distracted walking can be,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told ABC News Monday. “Keeping your head down while walking and not looking ahead of you can lead to a significant incident of injuries.”

Glatter said that he’d treated a number of patients for injuries ranging from facial fractures and eye injuries to blunt head trauma, nasal fractures, sprained ankles and foot injuries.

“I see them frequently,” he said. “In a typical week, we maybe see anywhere between five to 10 of these injuries.”

Some states, including Delaware, Utah, Arkansas and Illinois, have tried to pass distracted walking bills, but all have failed.

This summer in Fort Lee, N.J., police officers started handing out $85 tickets to residents caught jaywalking and texting.

Last year, 74 pedestrians were struck and two people were killed in Fort Lee, a city of 35,000 just across the Hudson River from New York City, officials there said.

And in Philadelphia, the city pressed on with plans for a new safety campaign after an April Fool’s joke -- in which officials taped off an “e-lane” so that distracted pedestrians could walk freely down the sidewalk -- was taken seriously.

“We had people who, once they realized we were going to take the e-lane away, got mad because they thought it was really helpful to not have people get in their way while they were walking and texting,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cellphones Replacing Pacifiers? More Moms Use Phones to Distract Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The early pioneers of the cellphone probably never imagined that one day the device might be a decent substitute for baby bottles and pacifiers.

But according to a survey released by Asda, a supermarket chain in the U.K., 27 percent of mothers hand a phone over to a crying or whining kid rather than a toy.  Compare that to the 25 percent of moms who still use a bottle, 21 percent who hand over soft toys, and the 9 percent who give their kids pacifiers.

First reported by the Daily Mail, the survey found that 40 percent of these parents restricted playtime with the digital devices to 10 minutes.  One in 10 admitted to allowing their children play with their phones for up to two hours at a time. The Asda poll was based on responses from 1,650 mothers.

There are thousands of apps aimed at children, including learning games and interactive cartoon apps, but there has also been great debate about how much screen time is too much for children. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting a child’s use of TV, movies, video and computer games to no more than one or two hours a day.  A study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine in April said that preschool-age children in the U.S. don’t get outdoors enough.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heavy Use of Mobile Devices May Lead to 'Smartphone Face'

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- According to some plastic surgeons, checking email, watching movies and doing other tasks on mobile devices is taking a toll on our faces.

Coining the affliction "smartphone face," Dr. Mervyn Patterson tells the London Evening Standard, "If you sit for hours with your head bent slightly forward, staring at your iPhone or laptop screen, you may shorten the neck muscles and increase the gravitational pull on the jowl area, leading to a drooping jawline."

Sagging jowls -- possibly caused by stooping over mobile gear -- are leading more and more people to get chin implants, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.  In 2011, "chinplants" were performed more than breast augmentation, Botox and liposuction combined, the ASPS claims.

Patterson says technology is prompting these changes in another way: more people are seeing their own sagging faces in front of them on video chat, and they're increasingly not liking what they're seeing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Women Connect More with Daughters over Phone as They Age

Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All it took researchers was two billion cellphone calls and a half-a-billion text messages to figure out what mom could have told them already: as she gets older, she tends to bond more with an adult daughter than with her spouse in phone conversations.

The study in the journal Scientific Reports reveals that while a man’s wife is usually his closest confidante throughout the duration of their marriage, wives tends to switch allegiances to daughters as they get older.

Researchers from the U.S., England and Finland conducted the study by poring over the patterns of 1.95 billion calls and 489 million text messages for seven months while taking into account the ages of men and women surveyed.

What they learned was that when men and women are young, they focus their attention on the opposite sex.  The wireless phone records also suggested that women seem to get interested in men at an earlier age, about 18, and that the level of interest lasts 14 years, which is double the length of men.

Then starting in their 40s, women start to drift from men as they seek out more intimate relationships with women about 25 years younger, presumably their daughters.  That’s when men get relegated to “second-best friend” on the phone for the next 15 years or so.

On the other hand, males tend to stick with their wives for the duration as their primary phone buddies.

So what explains this phenomenon?  The best researchers can figure out is that it has something to do with a women’s natural tendency to ensure the survival of her genes, although how calls and texts accomplish this feat will have to be the topic of another study.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cellphones and Cancer: Critics Say Kids Risk Brain Tumors

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scientists are calling into question a study published last year that failed to find a link between cellphone use and brain tumors in children and teens. They say the study actually shows that cellphone use more than doubles the risk of brain tumors in children and adolescents.

The concerns come from the Environmental Health Trust, a group whose stated mission is to promote awareness of environmental issues they believe are linked to cancer.

In July 2011, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the first study on cellphone use and risk of brain tumors in children and adolescents, which was conducted by researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. The scientists interviewed children and teens in Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden about their cellphone use and also collected cellphone records for a portion of them. Of the children studied, 350 had been diagnosed with brain cancer and 650 of them were healthy.

The July paper concluded that the data showed no link between cellphone use and brain tumors and "argues against a causal association" between the two.

In a letter published Thursday in the journal, the Environmental Health Trust said the interpretation of the study's results was flawed and contained several statistical errors.

Lloyd Morgan, a senior research fellow at the Environmental Health Trust and one of the authors of the letter, called the study "sloppy" and said the data reported in the original study actually shows that children who used cellphones had a 115-percent increased risk of brain tumors over those who did not.

"There's every indication that this study actually found that children have a doubled risk of brain cancer," Morgan said. "For them to just state that we don't think there's a problem is, for me, quite mystifying."

Messages to the journal and the authors of the original study asking for comment were not returned.

The authors of the original study do note some limitations of their work, including that a relatively small number of children were studied. They also wrote that they could not "rule out the possibility that mobile phones confer a small increase in risk."

International concern over the potential health risks posed by cellphones has gone on for years. In May, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer put the devices in the same category as lead and engine exhaust, citing the possibility that long-term exposure to cellphone radiation could have long-term health effects. Roughly 30 studies so far have failed to draw a conclusive link.

In October, the Environmental Health Trust also criticized the test used by the Federal Communications Commission to measure cellphone radiation, saying the measure did not accurately reflect the radiation transmitted to children and adults while using cellphones.

Concerns over risks to children are particularly heightened, considering the rising use of cellphones among kids and teens and the fear that children's developing brains might be more susceptible to the effects of cellphone radiation.

However, only two studies so far have investigated the link between brain tumors and cellphone use specifically among young people -- one is the disputed study, and the other is a research project currently underway in 13 countries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Cellphone Radiation Linked to Behavior Problems in Mice

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A new study could re-ignite the debate over the potentially dangerous effects of cellphone radiation on children's behavior.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine found that exposing pregnant mice to radiation from a cellphone affected the behavior of their offspring later.  They found that the mice exposed to radiation as fetuses were more hyperactive, had more anxiety and poorer memory -- symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- than mice who were not exposed to radiation.

Neurological tests revealed that the radiation exposure led to abnormal development of neurons in the part of the brain linked to ADHD, leading the authors to suggest that cellphone radiation exposure may play a role in the disorder.

"During critical windows in neurogenesis, the brain is susceptible to numerous environmental insults; common medically relevant exposures include ionizing radiation, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and stress," wrote the authors, led by Dr. Hugh Taylor, professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

They added that while their study provides "the first experimental evidence of neuropathology due to in-utero cellular telephone radiation," the data are not conclusive, and more research is needed to determine the effects of radiation on humans or non-human primates.

Dr. F. Sessions Cole, professor of pediatrics and chief of newborn medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that while the research is "provocative," the data are a long way from being applicable to humans.

"Mice are very different than humans," he said.  "The distance the phone was placed away from the mice in the study was between 4 and 20 centimeters, which is a very short distance compared to the distance from the ear to the womb in humans.  It's likely the dose of radiation the mice received is much greater than what a human fetus would receive."

Cole added that mice also have a much shorter gestation period, only 19 or 20 days, which can also mean a very different type of exposure than humans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Girlfriend’s Final Texts a Warning on Distracted Driving

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(QUEBEC, Canada) -- A young Canadian man is hoping the heart-wrenching final text message conversation he had with his girlfriend before she died can serve as a reminder of the dangers of distracted driving.

Mathieu Fortin has posted the final text messages he and his girlfriend, Emy Brochu, 20, sent each other while she was driving, right before the car she was in crashed Jan. 18, killing her. On a memorial Facebook page he titled “Share this if it touches you! I love you Emy xoxo,” Fortin posted the texts, along with pleas that his friends think twice before using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

The pair were texting each other while she drove to class, he wrote on the Facebook page. Her final message to him read, translated from French, “I love you too and I’ll try to make you happy.”

“I have a meeting at 12:30,” he responded, “I would have liked to hear your beautiful voice before but…we’ll talk tonight before 6:00…good day at school bb and I kiss you all over :).”

A little while later, when she still hadn’t responded, he texted again, asking if everything was okay, writing “Is all well my heart?” and “I’m a little worried here.”

The police investigation showed that cellphone use was a factor in the crash, Fortin writes, adding that the irony of the final texts still breaks his heart.

“How can a text message or email be more urgent than life?” Fortin of Victoriaville, Quebec, writes, according to a translation from French. “At what point does using your phone become more important than the people you love?”

Cellphone use -- either texting or talking on the phone -- is involved in 24 percent of all vehicle crashes, according to the National Safety Council.

“It’s important to remember that most cellphone communications require two parties,” David Teater with the National Safety Council told ABC News. “It takes two to text, so you have a responsibility not to participate in such risky behavior. It’s almost like letting a friend leave a bar drunk and get behind the wheel.”

“If something were to happen, if someone were to get killed, can you imagine going through life knowing you were on the phone with them when that happened?” Teater said.

On the Facebook page, Fortin writes that he feels guilty about Brochu’s death, and that he hopes people remember her when they think about picking up the phone while driving.

“It could be a child crossing the street while you’re staring at your phone,” Fortin writes, “THINK ABOUT IT!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Alarms Raised over Cellphone Effects on Pregnant Women, Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NORTH HAVEN, Conn.) -- Just a month into the New Year and the first report on the possible hazards of cellphone use has been released.

Non-profit Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) has fired the opening salvo of 2012 and it’s not good for the cellular technologies industry.

Lead author John Wargo writes, “The scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women. The weight of the evidence supports stronger precautionary regulation by the federal government.”

Wargo calls on cellphone makers to, “take immediate steps to reduce emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.”

Basing their findings on hundreds of previous studies, the EHHI researchers say that experiments performed on animals and humans detailing the effects of electromagnetic radiation said chronic cellphone use can lead to diminished learning, diminished reaction time, decreased motor function, reduced memory accuracy, hyperactivity and diminished cognition.

Since children and pregnant women are most susceptible to side-effects, EHHI recommends “The government must take greater responsibility for testing cellular technologies before they are marketed to assure their safety, their proper disposal and to educate the public about safe patterns of use.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio