Cell phones and other dangers

Bill Duncan<br>


For the Capital Press

If e-mails, letters and personal phone calls are any indication, I am not alone as a dinosaur roaming the jungles of cell phones. To my surprise many others feel as I do that no telephone call is so important it can't wait.

One of the shocking revelations came from a reader who researched the cell phone and electronic marvels phenomenon and sent me these mind-boggling statistics:

* There are 4.1 billion text messages sent every day in the United States alone.

* There are 140 million cell phones in the United States.

* Fifty-seven percent of teenagers see their cell phones as the key to their social life.

* Facebook has more than 200 million active users, with more than 100 million logging on at least once a day.

* Twitter has 18 million users and is most popular among those 45 to 54 years old.

I was also shocked when the reader said there are more than 500,000 dead cell phones waiting for disposal and gave some statistics that are even more frightening. Many of these older, obsolete phones have batteries containing cadmium.

The battery from a single old phone could seriously contaminate 600,000 gallons of water, enough to fill a third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Cadmium, however, is no longer being used in new cell phone batteries.

Cell phones, even new ones, use lead to solder components to the printed wiring boards. Lead affects the immune, endocrine and central nervous systems. Those wiring boards also contain brominated flame retardants, which have been associated with cancer, liver damage and problems with neurological, immune and endocrine systems.

Cell phone users will call all this hype, trying to scare people. It scared the hell out of me and I don't even own a cell phone.

I was so nave I thought people only walked around talking to themselves on these things, but each day I learn some new shocking event related to cell phones. The latest is some states are trying to get laws passed to criminalize sex texting, an unbelievable act, at least for this shy guy, of teens doing stripteases before the cell phone camera and sending the images out for the whole world to see.

Some district attorneys consider this child pornography and have arrested the stripteasers.

I will admit teenagers are a strange bunch, but when I look back and only had to handle long hair rebellion of my male teenagers, I pity this generation of parents. Solving the sexting problem is a little more difficult than finding Playboy under the mattress.

As a parent, I made the mistake years ago when my son, John, came by the house one day, and all this old Marine could see was that he had joined the long-hair trend. I barked: "Get a haircut, John."

He left. Weeks later I discovered he had come by the house to tell me there was a burglary at his apartment. When I asked why he hadn't told me that before, he replied, "I tried to Dad and you told me to get a haircut."

At that moment, I overcame and never mentioned the hair issue again. The same attitude should prevail in this latest texting crisis. Let's not brand these teenagers as child pornographers, but only as adventurous teenagers with raging hormones. Let's deal with it like adults using common sense.

Bill Duncan can be reached by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470.

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