NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A new study is trying to find out if rampant cellphone use is damaging the developing brains of children.
As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, the study will look at both the physical and psychological affects of cellphone use.
In addition to how much and for how long children use their phones, the British study will look at mental functions including memory and attention which could be directly affected by radio waves coming from the phones. Changes to those functions could also be due to the way video games and learning via computers change the brain.
Children today are exposed to cellphones at a very early age, some as young as 6 or 7-years-old.
Now, researchers in Britain are trying to determine what effect all of that talking and texting may have on a child’s developing brain.
“In particular, cognitive development. Cognitive functioning simply means thinking. How we think, how we decide on things,” Dr. Mireille Toledano explained.
The children at the Kingsmead School in North London are part the a new three-year study that is tracking the cellphone habits of about 3,000 students.
Students taking part in the study will install an app on their cellphones that measures how long they talk, text, and surf the internet. It will also track other radio wave devices like laptops, tablets, and wi-fi routers.
Researchers will put students through cognitive tests including a game that measures attention and memory.
“We will be capturing how fast the students can respond to the stimulus they are seeing and how accurately they are responding,” Dr. Toledano said.
Pascal Hassan said that he is interested to hear what researchers discover.
“You are using something every single day and you need to know what it does to you, and how it would affect you,” he said.
Researchers won’t be able to monitor students’ devices while they are in class as the school has a strict no-cellphone policy.
Previous, smaller studies mostly looked for, and failed to find brain damage caused by cellphone use.
This study looks for subtler thinking changes, but results could be hard to interpret because the technology and the amount of radiation from devices will change during the years that the study is underway.
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