Chapter 5 cover

Chapter 5

How to protect yourself

If you want to feel safer, it is crucial to use mobile phones responsibly. There are many ways of lowering electromagnetic radiation exposure levels. In addition, a recent lifestyle phenomenon is to go on a digital detox.

Reducing your exposure

People are advised to reduce radiation exposure whenever possible. There’s no need to drastically change your lifestyle, just adopting new habits is enough to feel safer.

Cordless phones should be used close to their base and you could consider connecting to the Internet using an Ethernet cable instead of a wireless router. Laptops should not be placed on your lap while working; especially if you are a man because of the impact radiation might have on fertility. It is important to use laptop pads. Smartphones should also be used with caution.

How to be protected from mobile phone radiation

Tips for reducing your exposure:

  • Use a headset or a speaker phone mode for calls. Holding a phone to your ear increases radiation exposure and is against the terms of service information that comes with a phone.

  • Avoid calls when the network signal is weak, this is when mobile phone radiation is strongest.

  • Do not carry your mobile phone close to your body. Men should not keep their smartphones in their front pockets. Women should not keep their smartphones in their bras.

  • Set your mobile phone to airplane mode when it is time to go to sleep. Studies show that blue light, notifications, mobile phone radiation and other electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures at night can interrupt sleep cycles and contribute to a host of ailments such heart palpitations, muscle pain and weakness, and daytime irritability. 1

  • Avoid using your mobile phone in basements, underground stations, elevators, etc. Check the conditions of optimum signal reception, usually outdoors or near a window while inside.

  • Try not to use your mobile phone in a car. The electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones is amplified by the metallic structure of a car. 2

  • Put your phone away if you don’t need it close to you at all times. This is useful not only due to radiation but also to avoid general distractions.

Try a digital detox

A digital detox refers to a state when someone decides to quit using electronic devices, especially smartphones, laptops and tablets, and spend their time in a different manner. The technique is considered to help in relieving stress and anxiety, which could be linked to the central role that digital devices play in our everyday life. The UK report, conducted by Public Health England, confirmed that children who have more than four hours of screen time a day are more likely to be depressed. 3, 4, 5, 6

Time spent playing computer games or watching television was significantly and negatively associated with young people’s well-being. Long-term research suggests TV viewing at younger ages (one to three years old) predicts later attention and hyperactivity difficulties (among seven-year olds) taking into account baseline level of difficulties.

Specific types of internet activity (social networking sites, multiplayer online games etc.) have been associated with lower levels of well-being among children. Children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression. This relationship is particularly negative among those who engage in high levels of screen use (more than four hours a day).

In the UK, 62% of 11-year olds, 71% of 13-year-olds and 68% of 15-year olds report watching more than two hours of TV a day on weekdays, compared to Switzerland where the figure is less than 35% across all three age groups. In England the proportion of young people playing computer games for two hours or more a night during the week increased from 42% to 55% among boys and 14% to 20% among girls between 2006 and 2010. The well-being of youngsters is also influenced by physical activity and healthy eating habits.

In the Moroccan desert, a social experiment was carried out in which 35 participants were cut off from their electronic devices. After four days of normal holidays, the participants had to give up their phones and tablets. Five undercover neuroscientists observed them before and after the procedure. Three days without technology were sufficient to cause many changes. They started looking upward into each other eyes, rather than downward into their mobile phones’ screens.

The researchers also noticed that the body posture of participants changed. The front of their bodies opened up, pushing back their shoulders. They began to feel more empathy and they could relax during conversations. It is clear that a digital detox can improve human relationships. 7

Starting a digital detox could be a challenge, so be prepared for it. You don’t have to give up on all electronic devices at once. The goal is to be more of a cautious user of technology. Take baby steps and appreciate any progress made.

People who decided to turn off their electronic devices (even for short periods of time) usually had similar reasons for going offline:

  1. Emotional dissatisfaction: users feel disappointment as a result of having had high expectations regarding the technology that were not satisfied.
  2. External values: due to political, religious or moral reasons.
  3. Taking back control: going on digital detox to regain control of their time and energy.
  4. Addiction: as a result of technology addiction.
  5. Privacy: due to the fear of their privacy being violated.
10 tips for a digital detox
  1. Do not use your smartphone before bedtime.
    Read a book instead.
  2. Have a non-screen time every day.
    Don't bring your smartphone to the table.
  3. Try to have a mobile-free day at the weekend.
    Focus on real things, in the real world.
  4. Turn off push notifications or alerts on your smartphone.
  5. Do not look at your smartphone to check the time.
    Get a wristwatch.
  6. Do not charge your devices in the bedroom, due to low frequency radiation.
  7. Do not spend hours on calls.
    Send a short text message or use a headset instead.
  8. Do not look at your phone first thing after waking up.
    Change your morning routine.
  9. Go out with friends and leave your phone at home.
  10. Don’t take your smartphone on vacation.
    Live in the moment and enjoy your holidays.

5 Reasons why you should put your phone away

  • Lowers concentration: It has been proven that using mobile phones whilst working or studying makes people 20% less productive. 8

  • Reduces memory: Being distracted by phone messages and notifications leads to forgetting goals of everyday tasks. 9 It also leads to distracted driving. 10

  • Warps view of reality: Social media presents an unreal view of reality, 11 so disconnecting from it could be something to consider.

  • Stress and Anxiety: As mentioned above, excessive use of mobile phones is bad for your mental health. Overuse leads to increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness and irritation. 12

  • Makes your sleep worse: Using a phone every night can lead to a decline in sleep quality. 13


The aim of this information is to help you understand the risks associated with long-term mobile phone radiation exposure.

When mobile phones emerged in the late 1980s, people discussed how devices should be kept at a distance from your body, they thought about the possible adverse health effects of using them everyday. This was an understandable reaction to something new and unknown.

Now, after more than twenty years of their presence, mobile phones are popular even among children. Questions about the safety of usage disappeared somewhere. We tend to use our mobile phones for longer than a few minutes per day. How will it affect us in the future, after twenty or thirty years of use? How many of us will experience the effects of radiation first-hand?

Further studies are required, especially with regards to the effects long-term mobile phone use has on human health. It is us, as average mobile phone users, who should demand to be provided with more scientific research. It is not just a matter of health and safety. It is the ability to recognise and differentiate natural from unnatural.

The knowledge that we put ourselves and our families at risk in man-made environments, should be commonplace. Prevention is better than cure, so let’s take care of ourselves and future generations by reducing our exposure to radiation when possible.

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  2. Dhami, A. K. (2015) Studies on Cell-Phone Radiation Exposure inside a Car and near a Bluetooth Device [Online] "/>
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  5. Public Health England (2013) How healthy behaviour supports children’s well-being [Online] "/>
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  12. Cazzulino, F. et al. (2013) Cell Phones and Young Drivers: A Systematic Review Regarding the Association Between Psychological Factors and Prevention [Online] "/>
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  13. Lee, Y-K. et al. (2014) The dark side of smartphone usage: Psychological traits, compulsive behavior and technostress [Online] "/>
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