Phone zombies
Health

Cell Phone Addiction: Today’s Tobacco

There’s a new and highly addictive product in use today. That product is the cellular phone. It’s a product which is causing a plethora of social problems, such as addiction, accidents, exposure to toxins, and deaths, in both users and non users. The cellphone industry is deliberately keeping the public in the dark about the harm that cell phones are causing, just as the tobacco industry did in the twentieth century. Marketers are brainwashing customers to believe that they can’t go even a few minutes without using a cell phone. Users don’t realize that their cell phone addiction is as deadly as tobacco.

As they read this article, some people may find that the story of the cell phone sounds all too familiar. That’s because people who lived in the middle and late twentieth century experienced a similarly addictive and deadly product. That product was tobacco. As with cell phones, companies that made billions of dollars from tobacco used that money to keep the deadly and addictive nature of tobacco a secret. These companies also added chemicals to their products in order to make them even more addictive.

It took decades of premature deaths and illness before governments began to regulate and discourage smoking. Smoking gradually lost its social acceptability when the public learned of the deadly consequences of using it. Governments strictly regulated tobacco advertising and propaganda. They successfully filed massive lawsuits against the cigarette makers, to recoup the health care and social costs from smoking. However, cigarettes are still available today, and tobacco still has a customer base of hardcore addicts who can’t or won’t stop using it.
Lungs ashtray with cigarette

The reason that the public doesn’t realize the depth of their cell phone addiction and the harm that it does is exactly the same as it was with cigarettes – deliberate secrecy for the sake of profit.  Just like with cigarettes, cell phone manufacturers add “apps” like social media and games to their products, which are designed to make them more addictive. The cell phone industry under-reports, lies about, or doesn’t report every negative aspect and effect of cell phone use.

Harm Caused By Cell Phone Addiction

Accidents

The cellular and law enforcement industries grossly under-report accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving, walking and cycling. This is a major problem because data about accidents affects accident prevention priorities, funding decisions, media attention, legislation, and even vehicle and roadway engineering. By accurately recording cell phone involvement in crash reports, distracted driving is more likely to receive the funding, attention and legislation needed to appropriately address this significant public safety threat. Those who profit from cell phones and the software they contain are fully aware of these facts but don’t want users to know about them.

Devolution of Man

Because the cell phone industry minimizes the risks of using their products, the public falsely believes that the accidents cell phone addiction causes are rare and only happen to others. They believe that they’re better drivers or pedestrians than anyone else, therefore they are safe from the consequences of their distracted driving or walking. They make excuses to justify their addictive and selfish behaviour, like “I only use my phone at red lights” or “I always know what’s going on around me, even when I’m using my cell phone” or “I use a handsfree device”.

Thanks to a constant barrage of corporate propaganda insisting that cell phone usage is always safe, the public is unaware of the many studies which prove that EVERY human brain is incapable of focusing on two mentally demanding tasks at the same time, and that there is NO safe way to operate a motor vehicle or even walk safely while using a cell phone, handsfree or not. Instead, vehicle manufacturers enable and perpetuate distracted driving and cell phone addiction by putting cell phone-enabled “infotainment” screens on dashboards, encouraging drivers to fixate on these screens while driving and brainwashing them to believe that checking their Facebook status is more important than keeping their eyes on the road. Fifty-three percent of drivers think these distraction screens are safe to use while driving, after all, they came with the car! The same goes for other accessory devices like bluetooth headsets.

Toxic Radio Signals

Another important danger of cell phones, the equivalent of second hand smoke, is the radio waves they produce. As with second hand smoke, even people who don’t use cell phones suffer forcible exposure to their radio signals. The waves emitted by cell towers are microwaves, of a slightly different wavelength than the microwaves found in microwave ovens. Cell microwaves have the same effect on human tissue as oven microwaves – they cause the molecules deep in human cells to vibrate and create heat. Have you ever tried to defrost a frozen chicken leg in a microwave oven? Did you notice that the microwave oven cooks the skin and fat but the meat remains frozen solid? Fatty tissue attracts microwaves, and the human brain is fatty tissue. What will cell phone microwaves do to human cells and DNA over time? Nobody is telling us about that.

Cell phone technology has not been around for long enough to make a final determination about the long term effects of exposure to these microwaves, which come from cell towers, and also from the cell phones themselves. However, science is well aware of the short term effects of exposure. In fact, when scientists study diabetes in rodents, they use the exact same microwaves in cellular signals to artificially induce diabetes in these animals. Exposure to cellular rf (radiofrequency) microwaves has been shown to cause abnormal blood sugar, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and cancer in humans.

The further away a cell phone is from a tower, the more microwaves it emits. Phone corporations carefully keep this connection a secret from the public, or they will even falsely deny it to allay fears. Only one country, India, currently regulates where to place cell signal towers – not near human habitation. Despite the fact that companies market bluetooth headsets and handsfree devices as “reducing exposure to radio waves”, they keep the public unaware of the harm the waves cause. In North America, most apartment and other public buildings bristle with cell towers on rooftops, and those who live on the highest floors of these buildings suffer the heaviest exposure. I am one of those people. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes less than a month ago, I am not overweight and I eat a healthy diet.

Interestingly, in my neighbourhood, which contains a mix of apartments and condos, the rental apartment building roofs are bristling with cell towers, but the expensive condo buildings have none. Cell phone service providers pay landlords handsomely for putting towers on their buildings, but it seems condo companies prefer to protect the health of their condo owners, at least in my city. Why wouldn’t condo building owners be cashing in on allowing cell towers on their roofs like landlords do, if these towers aren’t a health hazard?

Cellular signal towers
Cell signal towers photographed from my 16th floor balcony. More are visible on the building in the background.

But if current toxic cellular microwaves aren’t bad enough, the cellular phone industry is about to foist an even more harmful type of microwaves on wildlife and the public – the new 5G service. Current technology uses 4G microwaves. The new 5G microwaves are promised to provide faster and more reliable cellular phone service. But at what price? Testing is still in progress, but 5G is on the verge of being released to the public. And what testing in Belgium and Holland has shown is that 5G microwaves immediately kill many species of birds, from starlings to waterfowl. And they don’t just kill a few birds – they kill birds by the hundreds. The few birds who survive exhibit bizarre behaviours. Now what do you suppose these new, deadly microwaves will do to humans who press the source of those waves against their ears, and who live in buildings bristling with towers that emit these microwaves? Despite these findings, the cellular industry is going full steam ahead with its launch of 5G service.

Starlings Killed By 5G Test
A bag full of dead starlings collected by scientists in The Hague, Netherlands after a 5G test

Social problems from cell phone addiction

Another casualty of cell phone addiction is social etiquette and consideration for others. Most people have been forced to sit through a nearby cell phone user screaming embarrassing personal details into their phones in a restaurant, bus or theater, or while walking down the street. It’s another, equally annoying equivalent of second hand cigarette smoke. Requests to refrain from cell phone use in inappropriate areas like hospitals (where their signals can interfere with diagnostic equipment) are ignored. Addicted users often snub and ignore loved ones, who come in second behind their precious phones. Couples and families completely ignore each other in restaurants while their phone screens command their attention. Mothers take their children to the park and then they ignore the child while texting into a phone.

It makes me wonder what kind of people these neglected children will grow up to be. How will they relate to other human beings? Texting and video chat are replacing face to face interaction for people of all ages. This results in less intimacy and more impatience. People who send a text expect an immediate response, and become offended when they don’t receive it. That immediate gratification is the “hook” that causes the addiction. The primary symptom of cell phone addiction is constantly checking for new messages. Addicts can’t go for more than a couple of minutes without checking their phones – again. People even divorce and break up with each other by text. Human relationships are becoming superficial and disposable because of cell phone addiction.

cellphone_addicts_dining
A group of people dining. Notice that they are not interacting with each other at all.

Harming Children

More and more parents are buying cell phones for their children at younger ages, and de facto letting those phones raise their children and teach them poor social skills. Adults kept cigarettes away from children because tobacco does more harm to a developing body, yet they give cell phones to children with their developing minds as if the devices were toys. If cellular microwaves can harm adults, if cell phone addiction harms adults, what do these things do to a child’s growing brain?

Cell phone use is also damaging and victimizing children. In fact, it would be accurate to say that children are the biggest victims of the cell phone obsession. Parents are giving them their first phone at younger and younger ages. I’ve seen children as young as five years old using a cell phone. Parents unwittingly indoctrinate their infants to the cell phone addiction from birth, with rattles and other toys shaped like cell phones, and parents encourage their children to use them like real phones. Very soon the child playing with the toy cell phone starts demanding the real thing, and ignorant parents are quick to oblige.

Children bring their phones to school, where they’re an irritant and a distraction in class, preventing children from learning. Both children and their parents throw massive tantrums when told that the phones are not to be used during class, and parents threaten to sue schools that try to prohibit them from being brought to school. The parents’ excuse is “but my kid and I have to be in touch with each other at all times!!” Yet before the cell phone age, parents and children survived just fine without the devices. All schools had landline phones which they used in emergencies for parents and children to contact each other. This arrangement worked perfectly for decades.

Young Children With Smartphones

But the worst aspect of childhood cell phone use is that these children are completely unsupervised by parents. Parents who would never let their child use a computer without supervision let them use a cell phone unsupervised. Cell phones give children access to the same websites that computers do. The few parents who try to control their child’s cell phone use find that the phones are designed to prevent blocking of inappropriate material.

Child Pornography and Bullying

Cell phones give children unlimited internet access. As a result, many children are now exploring pornography using their phones. The porn industry is well aware of this and is now creating pornography geared to children. Pedophiles are contacting and exploiting children. Bullies are using phones to harass and victimize other children 24/7 to the point of suicide. Children as young as 8 years old are sexting and sharing pornographic photos of themselves and other children. Boys in high school are relentlessly pressuring girls to send them nude selfies. They then use the photos to blackmail and humiliate the girl. The problem is so widespread that the RCMP recently issued a warning to parents about children’s cellular phone usage. They warned that elementary school kids could become registered sex offenders if caught sharing child nudity (porn).

Parents should be aware of everything their children do on these phones. They should be setting rules and boundaries. Above all, they should drop the “MY kid would never do that!” attitude of denial. Parents should do what’s necessary to protect their child, even take the phone away. Here are 10 excellent reasons why children and teens should never be allowed to use cell phones in the first place.

Invasion of Privacy

Cell phones are also a major threat to personal privacy. Manufacturers pre-load their phones with a plethora of “free” bloatware “apps”. They design most of these apps for social media, but they create other apps for making purchases or navigation. Manufacturers design most of these apps, particularly the games and social media apps, to be addictive. They are so addictive that they seduce the user into paying repeatedly to continue playing. These apps are impossible to remove without jeopardizing the phone itself. Now what kind of app would be so important as to be impossible to remove? The kind that provide the best returns for the phone manufacturer and the companies which make these apps. The biggest return is cell phone addiction.

Companies aren’t in it just for the money anymore. Private user information is as valuable as gold. This is what companies are mining, so that they can sell it to advertisers. Anyone who uses a cell phone is being spied on in several ways. Cell phones are equipped with GPS locators. Cell phone service providers use these locators to track users’ locations without their knowledge. People use cell phones to shop and pay for things, which leaves them open to identity and cash theft. Companies want to know where people go, where they shop, what they buy, and who they communicate with. They use this information to market more products to the user, or to sell to other marketers. Police and government agencies also have access to private cell phone data, without the user’s knowledge or consent.

cellphone-eye-spy

What We Can Do

What steps can we take to deal with cell phone addiction? Cell phones have potential to be helpful tools, but right now the tools are their addicted human slaves. We call them “smartphones” but in reality they dumb their users down into a zombie like state. Like with tobacco or any other deadly item, cell phone use, promotion and design need to be strictly regulated. Cell phone addicts have proven repeatedly that they will not respect the rights of others or follow regulations. Society will need to force these addicts to comply using technology and new laws. Governments will need to sue the corporations responsible for these problems just as they sued the cigarette companies. We should force companies which create harmful products to pay to clean up the mess they make. Here is my recipe for cell phone sanity:

Distracted driving and accidents

  • Legislate the mandatory installation of cellphone signal jammers in all new vehicles. It’s possible to install jammers in older vehicles as well. Jammer technology allows 911 calls to go through while it jams other signals. The jammer would switch on when the car is in a drive gear, and disengage when it’s in Park. This would force cell phone addicts to pull over and park to use their phones. Currently, to suit the cell phone industry, jammers are illegal with heavy penalties in most Western countries. In fact they prevent harm caused by dangerous use of cellphones. The laws prohibiting jammers need to be changed.
  • Install “black boxes” in all vehicles, to track when an accident involves cell phone use. This would allow accurate reporting to gauge the true seriousness of the distracted driving problem.
  • Make it illegal for auto manufacturers to install any cell phone enabled device that distracts drivers. This includes “infotainment” dashboard screens and handsfree devices. Disable such devices in existing vehicles via recall and retrofit.
  • Greatly increase penalties for any cell phone use (including walking) that causes an accident. One reason cell phone addiction is rampant is that there are no consequences. Consequences should reflect the crime. For example, if inappropriate cell phone use causes a death, the phone addict responsible should be charged with murder.

Health hazards

  • Make installation of cell towers on or near residential buildings illegal. Prohibit cell phone service providers from bribing building owners to install towers.
  • Pass laws to prohibit corporate interference in health studies related to cell phones. Ensure that governments make study results public.
  • Prohibit sales of cell phones to minors. Impose stiff penalties for anyone caught selling cell equipment to minors. Discourage parents from allowing their children to use a cell phone unsupervised. Make “apps” geared to minors illegal. Force software developers to allow parents to check browsing history, screen inappropriate material, and disable the phone’s camera. Allow schools to prohibit students from bringing cell phones to school. Use cell phone jammers to stop student distraction in classrooms. Students who need to make a call can do so on the school office phone.
  • Force cell phone manufacturers to develop technologies to shield phone users and those who live near towers from cellular microwaves.
  • Force the cell phone industry to pay to treat victims of cell phone addiction and other health problems caused by their products.

Social problems

  • Governments need to make public service announcements about the harm of cell phone addiction as well as offering treatment services. The cell phone industry should be responsible for funding of these services.
  • Government agencies should educate the public about the harm caused by addictive and irresponsible cell phone use.
  • Public venues where cell phone use is not appropriate should be allowed to install signal jammers. Restaurants, theatres, “quiet cars” on trains, doctor’s offices and hospitals are examples of places that could use jammers.
  • We should ban deliberately addictive software on phones including games, social media etc.,  – especially when marketed to children.
  • We need to make counselling available for those who need help dealing with the consequences of addiction. Some side effects of cell phone addiction and withdrawal include social isolation, emotional damage, and other negative psychiatric effects. These side effects also affect children.

Tobacco addiction in the 20th century is disturbingly similar to cell phone addiction today. It appears we have not learned the lessons taught by Big Tobacco. Society is now making the exact same mistakes with cell phones. People are dying and becoming sick needlessly. These are the same consequences of any other addiction. The cell phone industry is making obscene profits by causing major damage to humanity. We must stop this enslavement once and for all.

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