Science News for Students

Smartphones are the new “dumbphones.” You’re teenager’s memory may be struggling, and smartphones may be the reason why. A new study found that the radiation emitted from smartphones has a negative effect on memory. Here’s what they found out.

Radiation Disrupts Brain Activity

The study was conducted by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in Basel, Switzerland. After exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) radiation, the study’s subjects performed worse on tests of spatial and figural memory.

According to Martin Roosli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, “This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations.”

Is The Youth At Risk?

According to a New York Times report, teens check their smartphones up to 150 times per day, or once every six minutes. That’s quite a bit of radiation exposure.

Researchers are concerned that a year’s worth radiation could be enough to impair short-term memory and damage the brain’s ability to interpret shapes and images.

Cutting Down On Smartphone Use May Be Enough

Not all studies on smartphone use and brain performance have had such negative results. A study conducted by the same research group found that low-to-moderate exposure to radio frequency devices had no effect on the cognitive performance of children. The study analyzed 617 elementary school children ages eight to eleven.

At such a young age, tech addiction hasn’t quite set in, and adolescents have fewer reasons to make calls and access the internet. By the time they’re teenagers, these habits will change. Tech addiction is rampant. In a large-scale study evaluating 2,500 college students, 60% of them reported being addicted to their smartphone. At least smartphones have a memory all their own. Teenagers can outsource their failing memories until the world solves smartphone addiction.