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Text but don't talk on mobile, children told

NEW safety fears over mobile phones were raised today after children were advised to "text, not talk".

Young people are now being told to text whenever possible and to call only for short periods in order to be "safe, not sorry".

While existing official advice to under 16s says the health effects of using a mobile phone are still not known, the new cautionary approach is outlined in health leaflets to parents and their children in Wales.

The Wales chief medical officer, Dr Tony Jewell said: "It is always better to be safe than sorry."

The advice to text not talk is a new departure aimed at discouraging children from putting mobiles too close to their heads.

While there is no solid evidence that mobile phones can cause health problems, experts believe that children should take extra precautions until definitive research is carried out.

As children's brains are still developing, some experts fear the effects of radiation on a child might be greater than on an adult.

Several studies have already suggested that heavy mobile phone use might increase the risk of a brain tumour.

However, it could be decades before this is confirmed.

John Jenkins, spokesman for the British Medical Association welcomed the new campaign.

He said: "Although there is no current evidence of a direct link between mobile phone use and any health problems, we agree with the chief medical officer that it would be wise for children to limit their use."

The Irish Cellular Industry Association, an alliance of the mobile operators, says on its website that there has been extensive research into the effects of EMF (electro- magnetic fields) on human health and "the consensus of scientific opinion is that there is no proven adverse health effect."

"If individuals are concerned they may choose to limit their own and their children's exposure from mobile phones," the association advises.