Study Will Find if Mobile Phones are Scrambling Teenage Brains

By Gerald Lynch on at

Were we more attentive, focussed and better at memorising things before the age of the mobile phone? A new study into the affects of mobile phone usage on developing teenage brains looks to answer this question.

2,500 11 to 12 year olds will be tested by researchers from Imperial College London from September on their thinking, memory and attention skills, before a follow up test in 2017 will be used to assess any changes in their abilities. The researchers will be writing to 160 schools asking for volunteer pupils.

Though the affects of mobile phone use on people's health is regularly called into question, the discussion is usually focussed around its potential to increase the chance of brain cancer. With the study taking place over a pivotal age in which a child's brain develops to maturity, it'll be interesting to see if the research finds a correlation between reduced attention span and mobile usage. How the study will be able to quantify a child's phone usage however, and factor in other influences -- such as games consoles, television and the biological tsunami that is puberty -- will be no mean feat however.

For those interested in the subject, I recommend reading Nicholas Carr's The Shallows -- though not linked to the study (and focussing more on general web usage than mobile phones) it's an interesting examination on the way technology is changing the way our brains work. [BBC]

Image Credit: A disgruntled preteen boy texts on his cell phone while laying back on an orange sofa from Shutterstock.com