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An unusual public health risk posed by mobile phones

When I fear I am becoming clumsy in old age, I take out my smartphone, cradle it in the palm of my hand and admire its pristine glass surfaces.

When I fear I am becoming clumsy in old age, I take out my smartphone, cradle it in the palm of my hand and admire its pristine glass surfaces.

No one else in our house can do this. Janet came nearest, keeping her phone nice for nearly a year before dropping it face down on the concrete last week. But from day one, our boys have been a disgrace.

Each managed to sit, stand or stamp on his device within weeks. And because cases and screen protectors are about as cool as stabiliser wheels, each walks around now with a slab of shattered glass in his trouser pocket.

I wince each time I see one of them stroking the splintered surface with his bare fingers while texting, or worse, holding it to his ear. But when I offer to pay for new screens, my generosity is greeted with snorts, like when I suggested they might want to wear coats in January.

Glass splinters are a pain, I say. And gritting your teeth while a nurse pecks at your flesh with those special pointed tweezers (that somehow I can never find in the chemist’s) is worse than listening to your dad’s playlist. But my cautions are dismissed as mere fussing.

How much emergency department time is used removing fragments of glass from parts of our children? According to the internet, only wimps seek medical help.

‘I’m not a doctor,’ says Ratboy, in case we wondered. ‘But I recommend duct tape.’ Alternatively, our kids could take a tip from Raji the Green Witch, who recommends molten candle wax. ‘Let it harden, then peel it off,’ she cackles, before flying off to advise at her local dermatology clinic.

Maybe the answer lies in those ludicrous computer watches. They have to be good for something. Here’s the pitch: child taps on watch, watch communicates with phone, phone stays in pocket. Child remains glass-free. Marketing guys, are you listening?

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