Put Down That Phone and Back Away Real Slowly

Dear Mr. Dad: This may sound paranoid, but all of a sudden I’m getting worried about electricity. My wife, three kids—ages 9-16—and I have smartphones. We’ve also got laptops, a wireless router, wireless phones, Bluetooth headsets, remotes, printers, satellite TV, Wii, Kindles, and about 25 other electronic gadgets spread out all over the house. I’m can’t believe that we aren’t being damaged in some way. Am I crazy?

A: Okay, have you been hacking my email? I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the same thing—and I have a feeling there are a lot more like us out there. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I received two books in the mail—both painting a very ugly picture of electronic pollution. I’ve barely been able to sleep since.
In “Disconnect,” scientist Devra Davis focuses on cell phone radiation and what she believes (and shows pretty convincingly) the industry has done bury the bad news. Health writer Ann Louise Gittleman, author of “Zapped,” also tackles cell phones, but she goes even further, pointing out that potentially dangerous electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are and lurking in places we’d never suspect: wall outlets, electric blankets, dimmer switches, hair dryers, iPod docking stations, refrigerators, electric razors, digital cameras, and even those electronic collars dogs wear that let them through their doggy doors.
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If You Can Not Beat Them, Text Them

Dear Mr. Dad: We recently got our teenage daughter her own cell phone. We held off for a long time, thinking we’d wait until she was mature enough to handle the responsibility. Looks like we were a little premature. She’s gone over the limit (mostly text messages) for the past two months, and nothing we say seems to sink in. Is there some way to cure her of this?

A: Welcome to the club. My 17-year old actually had several months with over 7,000 texts (incoming and outgoing). If you’re doing the math, that’s nearly 250 every single day. And compared to some other teens I’ve heard about, my daughter was a rank amateur. Part of the problem is developmental. Teens’ brains—particularly the parts that help deal with consequences—aren’t fully formed (and won’t be until their early 20s). But that doesn’t let them off the hook. Bottom line is that you can teach them better habits.
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