Smartphone use for prolonged period can impact teen memory
Exposure to radiation from smartphones can impact memory in teenage children, says a new study done by Swiss researchers.
The findings show that exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted from mobile phones used for over a year can have a negative effect on the development of figural memory in adolescents. Figural memory is located in the right brain hemisphere and the association with RF-EMF was pronounced in adolescents using mobile phones on the right side of the head.
“This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations,” said Martin Roosli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in Switzerland.
Potential risks to the brain can be minimised by using headphones or the loud speaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power. Importantly, sending text messages, playing games or browsing the internet showed only marginal RF-EMF exposure to the brain and was not associated with the development of memory performance.
However, it is not yet clear how RF-EMF could potentially affect brain processes or how relevant are the findings in the long-term, Roosli said.
Previous studies have linked excess smartphone usage in teens with a “modest” but significant rise in new attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The more social media, streaming video, text messaging, music downloads or online chats they engaged with, the more likely they were to report symptoms like difficulty organising and completing tasks, or trouble remaining still.
Another study suggested that prolonged use of smartphones and computers could increase the risk of depression and suicide-related behaviours in teenagers, especially girls.