Do Mobile Phones Affect Teens' Brains? Study Will Find Out
The Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones, or SCAMP, project will focus on cognitive functions such as memory and attention, which continue to develop into adolescence - just the age when teenagers start to own and use personal phones.
While there is no convincing evidence that radio waves from mobile phones affect health, to date most scientific research has focused on adults and the potential risk of brain cancers.
Because of that, scientists are uncertain as to whether children's developing brains may be more vulnerable than adults' brains - partly because their nervous systems are still developing, and partly because they are likely to have a higher cumulative exposure over their lifetimes.
"Scientific evidence available to date is reassuring and shows no association between exposure to radiofrequency waves from mobile phone use and brain cancer in adults in the short term - i.e. less than 10 years of use," said Paul Elliott, director of the Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, who will co-lead the research.
"But the evidence available regarding long term heavy use and children's use is limited and less clear."
Mobile phone use is ubiquitous, with the World Health Organisation estimating 4.6 billion subscriptions globally. In Britain, some 70 percent of 11 to 12 year-olds now own a mobile phone, and that figure rises to 90 percent by age 14.
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Image: Teen on cell phones, via Shutterstock