Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Oral Presentations
A potential association between socioeconomic status (SES) and self-reported use of mobile phones has been investigated in a few studies. Whether objective exposure to mobile phone networks differs by SES in children and adolescents has not yet been studied.
Data was taken from a cross-sectional study investigating a possible association between exposure to mobile phone networks and well-being in children and adolescents. In total, data of 1481 children and 1505 adolescents was used. During a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) on participants' mobile phone use, socio-demographic characteristics and potential confounding variables were collected. Sociodemographic data was used to stratify participants into three “status groups” (low, middle, high). Using a personal dosimeter (ESM-140 Maschel Elekctronics), we obtained an exposure profile over 24 hours for three mobile phone frequency ranges for each of the participants. Exposure levels were expressed as a mean percentage of the reference level.
Children with a low SES were more likely to own a mobile phone (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.1-3.9) and also reported to use their mobile phone longer per day (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1-5.4) than children with a high SES. For adolescents, mobile phone ownership was independent of SES, but self-reported duration of phone use per day was also higher in adolescents with a low SES (OR 3.4; 95% CI 1.4-8.4) compared to adolescents with a high SES. No association was seen for children or adolescents between SES and objective exposure to mobile telecommunication networks.
Mobile phone use may differ between status groups with higher use among disadvantaged groups. However, this does not result in a higher overall exposure to mobile telecommunication networks. Whether the short duration of personal phone calls or the small numbers in the low SES group are causal has to be investigated in further studies.