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Eur J Epidemiol. 2004;19(11):1043-50.

Cellular telephone use among primary school children in Germany.

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Institute for Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, University of Mainz, Germany.



There is some concern about potential health risks of cellular telephone use to children. We assessed data on how many children own a cellular telephone and on how often they use it in a population-based sample.


We carried out a cross-sectional study among children in their fourth elementary school year, with a median-age of 10 years. The study was carried out in Mainz (Germany), a city with about 200,000 inhabitants. The study base comprised all 37 primary schools in Mainz and near surroundings. Altogether, 1933 children from 34 primary schools took part in the survey (participation rate of 87.8%).


Roughly a third of all children (n = 671, 34.7%) reported to own a cellular telephone. Overall, 119 (6.2%) children used a cellular telephone for making calls at least once a day, 123 (6.4%) used it several times a week and 876 (45.3%) children used it only once in a while. The remaining 805 (41.6%) children had never used a cellular telephone. The probability of owning a cellular telephone among children was associated with older age, being male, having no siblings, giving full particulars to height and weight, more time spent watching TV and playing computer games, being picked up by their parents from school by car (instead of walking or cycling) and going to bed late. The proportion of cellular telephone owners was somewhat higher in classes with more children from socially disadvantaged families.


Our study shows that both ownership of a cellular telephone as well as the regular use of it are already quite frequent among children in the fourth grade of primary school. With regard to potential long-term effects, we recommend follow-up studies with children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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