Characterizing exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields from wireless telecommunications technologies during childhood and adolescence is a research priority in investigating the health effects of RF. The Mobi-Expo study aimed to describe characteristics and determinants of cellular phone use in 534 young people (10-24years) in 12 countries. The study used a specifically designed software application installed on smartphones to collect data on the use of wireless telecommunications devices within this age group. The role of gender, age, maternal education, calendar period, and country was evaluated through multivariate models mutually adjusting for all variables. Call number and duration were higher among females compared to males (geometric mean (GM) ratio 1.17 and 1.42, respectively), among 20-24year olds compared to 10-14year olds (GM ratio 2.09 and 4.40, respectively), and among lowest compared to highest social classes (GM ratio 1.52 and 1.58, respectively). The number of SMS was higher in females (GM ratio 1.46) and the middle age group (15-19year olds: GM ratio 2.21 compared to 10-14year olds) and decreased over time. Data use was highest in the oldest age group, whereas Wi-Fi use was highest in the middle age group. Both data and Wi-Fi use increased over time. Large differences in the number and duration of calls, SMS, and data/Wi-Fi use were seen by country, with country and age accounting for up to 50% of the variance. Hands-free and laterality of use did not show significant differences by sex, age, education, study period, or country. Although limited by a convenience sample, these results provide valuable insights to the design, analysis, and interpretation of future epidemiological studies concerning the health effects of exposure resulting from cellular phone use in young people. In addition, the information provided by this research may be used to design strategies to minimize RF exposure.
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