As one of the methods I use to distract my wee fella when we are changing him etc is that I give him my mobile (cell) phone. He immediately puts it in his mouth and it keeps him entertained for the period I need him to be. I then take it off him as I'm a bit concerned it's not good for his health. It's just it works so well!

I haven't exactly read any articles on whether mobile phones are dangerous for kids but just wondering if anyone knows or has been told that they are bad? I hope I'm not giving him something even for a few minutes that will have an adverse effect later on in his life!

  • I think it's worse for the phone. ;) My main concern for the child is that a phone is likely full of germs.
    – DA01
    Apr 10, 2012 at 14:06

4 Answers 4


Cell-phone coatings are often made of lead. Cell phones also contain copper, nickel, antimony and zinc. Cell phones are officially considered "hazardous" e-waste.

Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium are present within mobile phones, especially older models, as well as brominated flame retardants in the devices' printed circuit boards and casings.


Plastic types known as polycarbonate and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene---or a combination of the two---commonly compose most cell phones. Brominated flame retardants often coat these plastic shells.

cell phones commonly contain substances including lead, mercury, beryllium, arsenic, beryllium, brominated flame retardants, lead, nickel, palladium, silver, tantalum, cadmium and antimony.


More: http://www.epa.gov/osw/education/pdfs/life-cell.pdf

I highly recommend not giving your child your cell phone as a toy. It is not meant to be consumed; it is not meant to be used as a toy. It has very harmful chemicals that have been connected with cancer and serious medical conditions.

  • 6
    The majority of the materials you mention are related to internal components, which won't be an issue unless the case becomes compromised. The child is chewing on the phone, not consuming it. However, the caution against the brominated flame retardant coatings sounds like sufficient cause for concern.
    – user420
    Apr 11, 2012 at 14:07
  • Kids don't consume toys either, yet we prefer their toys to be without chromium, PVC, and lead - all of which cell phone casings/plastic covers are made of. We don't consume our plates, spoons and bottles either - yet we prefer them to be free of toxic chemicals. Chemicals have a way of "leeching" without being consumed.
    – Swati
    Apr 11, 2012 at 14:37
  • I think you'll find that many electronic toys deemed suitable for children contain many of those very same dangerous components. Certainly cadmium could be found in any toy that uses batteries, if NiCd rechargeable batteries are used. However, those toys should be designed to prevent children from getting at the dangerous inner workings (which is why current children's toys require a screwdriver to change the batteries). I'd be seriously surprised if a toddler could chew their way into the insides of an iPhone, however.
    – user420
    Apr 11, 2012 at 14:55
  • Frankly, I was more concerned about mercury and lead in the casings :)
    – Swati
    Apr 11, 2012 at 15:15
  • 1
    That's why I pointed out that the part from your answer relevant to the casing was sufficient cause for concern :)
    – user420
    Apr 11, 2012 at 15:18

I'd strongly recommend against this. Household dirt is mostly harmless (and sometimes even useful) but industrial chemicals are not. Surfaces of consumer electronics product are often all treated with certain chemicals to enhance appearance and durability. Metal is often plated, anodized or painted. Plastics are painted and enhance with UV stabilizers. Glass surfaces have anti-smudge coatings. All of these involve chemicals. While the worst ones (such as lead or Hexvalent Chromium) have been recently outlawed in the EU there are still a lot of those and plenty of others around. It is certainly NOT something you want to put into a toddlers mouth and a regular basis. There are plenty of harmless things he/she can chew on.


I'd be worried about damage to the phone (moisture etc.), but that's not what you're asking about.

Take a close look at your phone. Take a close look at your keyboard. All the little corners and cracks and spaces around the buttons are filled with ... dirt.

I would not want to lick my phone, even though I try to keep my devices reasonably clean. And I wouldn't want my son to do so, either. It might not be very harmful because after all toddler eat sand from the playground and survive that too. But it's not a habit I'd like to support.

Besides, you might be (un?)knowingly teaching your toddler that it's okay to put electronic devices in his mouth. What about TV remotes? What about other people's devices he might get his hands on.

I'm a black-and-white kind of person, meaning that I think if it's a little bad then it is bad and then it should be avoided -- within reason of course.

Summary: No, it's not bad for his health but I'd still not allow it. Find a more suitable distraction for the diaper change.

  • Cell phones are made of dangerous chemicals that are not meant to be consumed. It is bad for health.
    – Swati
    Apr 11, 2012 at 13:44

Yes, it is likely very dangerous for a child to chew on a cell phone, specifically due to the bacteria commonly found. There are various studies comparing the germs on cell phones unfavorably to toilet seats.

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