Health Experts Urge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Discontinue Messenger Kid App

A social media firestorm has erupted to protest the introduction of Facebook’s new Messenger Kids App. The company states that the app, designed for children ages 6 to 12, allows them to connect with family and friends from their tablet or smartphone. Similar to Snapchat, kids can create their own videos and decorate photos.  The message however does not disappear and parents can approve the contact list.

Nineteen organizations and almost 100 health experts, including psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians and professors, were not convinced of the need for, nor the safety of this new social media app, pointing out the risks to childhood development. Their letter, organized by the  Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood  (CCFC), points out that Messenger Kids would likely be most children’s first social app and widely used by elementary students. They highlight that excessive social media is already harming teens. The letter argues that the downsides of the children’s app would be broad and affect both individuals and society at large. The authors note:

  • Younger children are not psychologically ready to have social media and navigate complex online relationships
  • Younger children do not understand the concept of privacy
  • Studies show that with more social media use by teens, the more unhappy they are
  • Digital device use will increase and direct face to face communication will decrease
  • Development of healthy human relationships including delayed gratification is harmed
  • It will normalize social media use in young children
  • It will create peer pressure stress in young children
  • Facebook is not responding to a need but creating one and targeting young children

Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Please Discontinue Messenger

 In a separate letter , Gloria DeGaetano, Founder and Director of Parent Coaching Institute, places her concerns more bluntly on the table.  She asks that CEO Mark Zuckerberg read the research presented carefully and ponder the long term consequences of this app. She questions not only the nature of the advocacy groups  used to create Messenger Kids but also if an industry billionaire tech culture is now superseding a healthy nurturing human culture.  DeGaetano is concerned that these types of apps for younger children normalize a “trans-human” agenda with a man-machine merger and without thoughtful knowledge of its perils, including the loss of human identity. She implores Facebook to discontinue  Messenger Kids app for the best interests of children and society, both present and future.

News Stories Digital Addiction and Distraction


Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks.  Feb 5, 2018, Commonwealth Club, SF


Is Wireless Access Being Oversold?

With a tsunami of cell tower infrastructure planned for wireless telecommunications expansion, including 5G and driverless cars, there has been little discussion of the access, reliability, privacy, health and environmental benefits of maintaining and expanding our current sophisticated wired communications system. This novel and important program will feature the costs and benefits of our landlines intermixed with other innovative wired and cable systems.

The talk on Feb 5, 2018, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, features among others,  Timothy Schoechle, PhD, author of Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks, from the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy in Washington D.C.  Re-Inventing Wires

His report asserts that “first and foremost, the public needs publicly-owned and controlled wired infrastructure that is inherently more future-proof, more reliable, more sustainable, more energy efficient, safer, and more essential to many other services. Wireless networks and services, compared to wired access, are inherently more complex, more costly, more unstable (subject to frequent revision and “upgrades”), and more constrained in what they can deliver. “

The Internet is a Defining Technology of Our Society

Dr. Schoechle is a communications technology expert, faculty member of Colorado State University-Global Campus where he develops graduate and undergraduate courses on cyber-security and in addition is Principal Investigator for a research grant to demonstrate innovative electricity management, solar, and control system technologies.  He states, “The Internet has become one of the defining technologies
of our society. It is our central medium for commerce and communication—but more importantly—for our public discourse, engagement, and democratic governance. However, it has been hijacked by the commercial motivations that have come to re-define and constrain the availability, quality, content, and media of high-speed access in the United States.”

In the report, Dr. Schoechle asks: Why has the Internet been growing in an inefficient, insufficient, and unsustainable direction? Is wireless access being oversold? Why are existing copper phone lines being abandoned when current protocols allow them to deliver data at gigabit speed?

From Deregulation to Reconsolidating of Communications 

He shows how deregulation led to the “reconsolidation of communications monopoly providers dominated by a triopoly that has come to be more limiting and detrimental than the original AT&T Bell System monopoly that was broken up in the mid- 1980s.3 This historical perspective shows why the wires are inescapably a public utility.” The report also describes how copper phone pair, DSL, cable, Ethernet, and optical fiber combinations can have advanced performance and much higher energy efficiency than wireless systems.


The speakers will discuss the history of landlines, emerging technologies and their role in the future of landlines as well as public policy choices and opportunities to maintain privacy, security and broad communication access.

Panelists include:

Timothy Schoechle, Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy

Martin Pall, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University

Jim Turner, Esq.

Partner, Swankin & Turner

Duncan Campbell, Esq.

Radio Host, “Living Dialogues

Tickets are $7-$20 through Eventbrite at Reinventing Wires Tickets Eventbrite

Apple Investors Concerned iPhones May Harm Children

Two Apple investors have written an open letter  to ask the company to address the negative impacts of digital technology on children’s development stating, “There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences.” Janus Partners and the California State Teachers Retirement System, worth $2 Billion of Apple’s $900 billion market value, cite research showing that digital technology causes a distraction for students as well as anxiety and stress.  A New York Times article  “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety“,  notes a doubling of hospital admissions for suicidal teens in the last 10 years.

Jana Partners managing director Barry Rosenstein and CalSTRS director of corporate governance Anne Sheehan, who signed the letter, reviewed studies showing a link between use of digital technology and concentration, emotional health, sleep and empathy. They examined, among other data, a collaborative research initiative “Growing Up Digital Alberta”  GUD Alberta which looked at health outcomes and technology use.  They found that “a majority (67%) of teachers from this stratified random sample believe that digital technologies are a growing distraction in the learning environment.” In addition 62% of teachers feel that they themselves  were negatively distracted by digital technology and media.

The Apple letter also states, “It is also no secret that social media sites and applications for which the iPhone and iPad are a primary gateway are usually designed to be as addictive and time-consuming as possible, as many of their original creators have publicly acknowledged… “it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone.”

Former Silicon Valley executives like Chamath Palihapitiya have publicly denounced social media sites admitting, “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” Former Facebook Exec says social media is ripping apart society.

To solve this problem Janus and CalSTRS  suggest that Apple, as an innovative leader, help parents by

  1. convening an expert committee, including child development experts, to study this issue
  2.  improve parental controls in their products to help parents limit their children’s cell phone use
  3. hiring or assigning a high-level executive to monitor this issue and develop an annual report

The letter finishes with this insight.  “Increasingly today the gap between “short-term” and “long-term” thinking is narrowing, on issues like public health, human capital management, environmental protection, and more, and companies pursuing business practices that make short-term sense may be undermining their own long-term viability. In the case of Apple, we believe the long-term health of its youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the Company itself, are inextricably linked,”

Apple responded stating, “Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online.”  Apple said it plans new features to help parents control how children use its smartphones.


Apple Investors Warn iPhones and Other Technology May Be Hurting Children. Jan 8, 2018

iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors. Jan 7, 2017.

Two large Apple shareholders say it needs to research the impact of smartphones on kids. Jan 7, 2018.

Apple Investors Shrug Off Child iPhone Addiction Concerns. Jan 8, 2018.

How Apple Should Respond to Investor Demands to Protect Kids From iPhone Addiction. January 22, 2018. Inc.


New Study on the Risk of Miscarriage and Electromagnetic Radiation

In a newly released study large prospective study from Kaiser, researcher Dr. De-Kun Li found an association between high magnetic field exposures from devices emitting non-ionizing radiation exposure and miscarriage risk. The study    published in Scientific Reports,  Exposure to Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of Miscarriage: A Prospective Cohort Study examined  the real-world exposures of 913 pregnant women and found after controlling for multiple other factors, women who were exposed to higher MF levels had 2.72 times the risk of miscarriage. The increased risk of miscarriage associated with high magnetic fields was consistently observed regardless of the sources of high magnetic fields.

Dr Li  notes thatches is one of only a few studies which have accurately measured exposure to magnetic fields from  non-ionizing radiation.  Dr. Li said. states “This study provides fresh evidence, directly from a human population, that MF non-ionizing radiation could have adverse biological impacts on human health.” He adds “This finding has made it more difficult to continue to dismiss possible biological effects of MF exposure.”

The study was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle by Sophie Hague Radiation typical of cell phones and Wi-Fi linked to high rate of miscarriages Dec 16, 2017 and also on Dec 21, 2017 by  Caille Millner  Avoiding EMF radiation not as easy as quitting smoking. 

The Science Daily also wrote about this Dec 13, 2017 in Health risks linked to electromagnetic field exposure

California Department of Public Health Leads in Recommendations for Cell Phone Radiation Protection

On December 13, 2017 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Released its first guidelines on “How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation for Cell Phones”  CDPH Press Release Dec 13, 2017 .  The CDPH notes that cell phone use is increasing dramatically and thus this was an important time to release it. This has been applauded by health and environmental groups, including the Environmental Working Group,  as a huge step in protecting the public from adverse effects of this non-ionizing radiation. This is especially important as children are using wireless devices at much younger ages thus increasing years of cumulative exposure and harm. CBS News Dec 15, 2017

Despite this landmark decision to alert the public about the potential harm from  radio frequency radiation, scientists note that it is long overdue. Dr. Joel Moskowitz, is part of a large group of published scientists working on radio frequency health effects and who are calling for much stricter standards and protective measures by international government agencies. Regarding the CDPH recommendations he states,  “The science is a lot stronger now, but you would not think that reading from this document. It’s underplayed.’’  The Mercury News Dec 16, 2017    notes that Dr. Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, has been involved with this issue for many years.  He learned in 2013 that the CDPH had guidelines since 2009 but did not release them. After a series of failed Public Records Act requests for the document, a lawsuit was filed and Sacramento County Superior Court judge in March, 2017 ordered the release of  CDPH cell phone safety guidelines. 

Additional recommendations to further reduce exposure can be found at Wireless Safety Tips . It is important to note that a cordless phone has about the same radiation as a cell phone thus it is recommended to use a landline for long calls. For scientific information about the risks of cell phone use see also MDSafeTech- Brain Tumors and Cell Phones. 

California Department of Public Health:

How To Reduce Exposure from Radiofrequency Radiation from Cell Phones.

The important new CDPH guidelines  provide valuable practical steps to reduce exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones. That includes:

  • Keeping the phone away from the body
  • Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
  • Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
  • Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
  • Removing headsets when not on a call
  • Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.

Evidence Strengthens for Brain Tumors from Cell Phone Use

Dr. Lennart Hardell has completed an update analyzing the brain tumor case-control studies from 2010 to 2017 and concluded the evidence has strengthened the association between cell phone use and brain tumors on the same side of the head.

“There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma with use of mobile and cordless phones” says Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, Orebro University, Sweden. He goes on to state,  “Epidemiological evidence shows that radio frequency should be classified as a Group 1 (Known) Human Carcinogen. The evidence for risks to health from brain tumors has substantially increased since 2010. The existing FCC/IEEE and ICNIRP public safety limits are not adequate to protect public health.”  Radio frequency electromagnetic radiation is currently classified as a class 2B probable carcinogen.

Here is the full report. Bioinitiative Hardell and Carlsberg Brain Cancer Cell Phone Update 2017

For  updated Scientific Literature  on cell phones and brain tumors see  Brain tumors and Cell Phone Radiation

SB649 Vetoed by Governor Brown


The last veto Governor Brown made just before midnight Oct 15, 2017 was that of SB649 (Hueso) which would have fast tracked permitting of small cell towers throughout cities in California. SB649 was opposed by the League of Cities and County Associations as it would essentially force cites to comply with telecommunications placement of cell towers on utility poles owned by the public, add battery back-up cabinets (with gas generators as needed) on every block and with a limit on what cities could charge for “renting” the poles. This bill was also opposed by a number of scientists, physicians and environmental groups concerned with the growing evidence of biological and health harm from increasing wireless radiofrequencies in addition to public fire safety of these cell towers and associated equipment. Here is the Mercury News story.

Governor Jerry Brown vetoes bill easing permits on cell phone towers, Mercury News October 15, 2017

UCSD Professor of Medicine Speaks Out Opposing Wireless Bill SB649

August 22, 2017:

Dr. Beatrice Golomb, UC San Diego researcher and professor of Medicine, wrote a strong letter with over 300 references to California Legislators urging them to vote no on SB649. This bill aims to streamline placement of “small cell” wireless antenna on utility poles owned by the city without permits, public input or ability for cities to receive fair market rent from telecommunications companies. Dr. Golomb notes that it is not only removing local government control but also disregards consideration of the health and safety of the public.

She is joined by the League of Cities, the California State Association of Counties as well as the AARP,  Sierra Club and Environmental Working Group who also have concerns about health and environmental issues.

Here is her letter

Golomb SB649 5G Letter 8-22-2017

California: Bill to ease permits for cell phone towers could affect health



The California Alliance for Safer Technology has posted this information on a rapidly moving AT & T bill that will fast track placement of  “small cell” antennas throughout our neighborhoods and cities. Here are 8 reasons why you should consider calling your legislator.

Keep Cell Towers Away from Our Homes and Schools!


1. Over 270 of the cities and 45 of the 52 counties in California representing over 2/3 the State’s population oppose SB 649– and the opposition is growing.

“The League of California Cities is strongly opposed to SB 649, which would represent a major shift in telecommunications policy and law by requiring local governments to lease out the public’s property, cap how much cities can lease this space out for, eliminate the ability for cities to negotiate public benefits, the public’s input and full discretionary review,… for the installation of ‘small cell’ wireless equipment.” League of California Cities

2. Major newspapers and organizations have taken a stand against SB 649: Los Angeles Times calls SB 649 “An audacious 5G power (pole) grab.”

The Sacramento Bee explains: “Imagine if a private company decided to place a bunch of equipment on your house and offered you pennies on the dollar to “rent” your roof space. Now imagine that you didn’t have the right to say “no.”

AARP opposes SB 649: “AARP opposes SB 649 because it undermines the authority of local governments and thereby deprives local citizens the right to have a say about where small-cell towers are located in their communities.” (7/19/17 letter to Assembly Appropriations Committee)

3. Firefighters received an exemption in SB 649 based upon health grounds.

Through an exemption in the bill, California legislators accept the need to protect the health of firefighters, some of whom have measurable brain abnormalities following years of exposure to cell towers near their stations. SB 649 is in effect admitting that the devices that will be located in close proximity to homes and schools are likely dangerous. What about everyone else? Don’t we deserve the same protection?

4. Has liability fallen through the cracks and into the lap of the State?

Because SB 649 takes authority away from local government, the State could be assuming financial liability risk for future injury, fire, loss of health and property devaluation due to the close proximity of cell antennas to homes, workplaces and schools. Multiple underwriters, including Lloyd’s of London, refuse to cover injury or damage from electromagnetic radiation (EMF).

“The Electromagnetic Fields Exclusion … is applied across the market as standard.” The exclusion includes: “Bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury…..provided that such injury or damage results from or is contributed to by the pathological properties of electromagnetic radiation.” CFC Underwriting, UK agent for Lloyd’s of London

5. Contrary to assurances by the telecom industry, the “safety” of wireless exposure has never been established.

In May 2011 the World Health Organization’s preeminent cancer research agency, IARC, classified everything on the RF – EMF spectrum as a possible human carcinogen, putting it in the same category as DDT. This includes radiation from cell towers.

A major $25 million study recently released by the U.S. National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health found increased incidences of brain cancer, malignant tumors of the heart and DNA damage in laboratory animals from exposure levels the FCC considers “safe”!

The American Cancer Society’s statement on the significance of this new study: “The NTP report linking radiofrequency radiation (RFR) to two types of cancer marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk. The findings are unexpected; we wouldn’t reasonably expect non-ionizing radiation to cause these tumors.”

6. Wireless Exposure Standards do not adequately protect public health:

The FCC, EPA and WHO have failed to adequately keep up with this technology and defend the public over the interests of large telecom corporations. In 2015, 225 leading scientists and researchers in the area of EMF and wireless radiation from 41 nations appealed to the United Nations to urge the World Health Organization to exert strong leadership in fostering the development of more protective EMF guidelines, encourage precautionary measures and educate the public about health risks, particularly risk to children and fetal development. International EMF Scientist Appeal

7. SB 649 ushers in widespread exposure to 5G – a new generation of wireless radiation (RF) which has NEVER been tested for its impact on public health.

Ron Melnick, PhD, the National Institutes of Health scientist who led the design of the U.S. National Toxicology Program study that found cancer and DNA damage in laboratory animals from cell phone radiation cautioned: “There is an urgent need to evaluate 5G health effects now before millions are exposed.”

8. Contrary to promises made to disadvantaged communities…SB 649 includes nothing in the text of the bill to remedy the Digital Divide.

“…communications providers have repeatedly demonstrated that they will not make advanced services available to low-income or rural areas unless they are required to do so. SB 649 contains no such requirement, instead allowing providers to pick and choose where to build their networks without any community input.” The Greenlining Institute’s Letter sent June 27th in opposition to SB 649

Please vote NO on SB 649!