The world’s largest investigation into the effect of mobile phones and other wireless devices on children’s mental development has begun in the UK. The Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones (SCAMP) is aimed at mental functions such as thinking skills, attention and memory, which continue to develop during the teenage years. Frontal and temporal lobes, the two parts of human brain that are closest to the mobile phone held to the ear, play a critical role in higher cognitive functioning.
WHO says mobile phones child risk study is of the ‘highest priority’
The research will be funded by the industry and government. Starting today, the Imperial College of London will invite over 160 secondary schools in London area to participate in the study. Over 2,500 students of age 11- and 12-year will be tracked from September, 2014 through 2017. The World Health Organization says a study in this area has the “highest priority.”
Scientists say little is known about the impact of mobile phones and other similar technologies on children. Much of the research done on mobile phones has focused on adults, and the risk of brain cancer. So far, no evidence of harm has been found. Despite no convincing evidence of effects on adult health, experts argue that children might be vulnerable because they have thinner skulls and their nervous systems are still developing. Anyway, the NHS advises children below 16 to use phones only for necessary purposes.
No concrete evidence on the impact of mobile phones on child health
This study will do a reality check by asking tracking children and asking their parents about their use of mobile phones and tablets. Researchers will also collect and analyze data from telecom operators. The 11-12 age group has wider significance because most children get mobile phones at that age, and also enter the secondary school. More than 70% British children in that age group own mobile phones.
Lead investigator Dr Mireille Toledano noted that there is no available evidence of the effects of mobile phones on children. So, parents are advised based on the precautionary principle rather than the evidence of any harmful impact.