Here's something that will be a good "I-told-you-so" for probably more than a few people out there. A new study finds that smartphones may interfere with the development of memory in teenagers. According to a paper published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Monday, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) finds it's the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF) we absorb through our skulls while talking on that creepy little devil-box that could be ruining kids' memory.
Now, usually when someone starts talking about EMF waves and how they're messing up our minds, the proper course of action is to give them an avocado and hope they go away. Usually that's the right thing to do. This time, however, it seems like a reputable study. Approximately 700 Swiss students between the ages of 12 and 17 were observed over the course of a year of normal smartphone use. Researchers were tracking the cumulative effect that a year of RF-EMF from smartphones will have. According to Science Daily, this is the first study of its kind.
The study found that just one year of smartphone use could interfere with adolescents' development of the type of memory associated with remembering structures, shapes, and patterns called "figurative memory." Figural memory is located mostly in the right hemisphere of the brain, and the study found that right-handed handed adolescents were more prone to memory damage. This right-handed bias of the effects is further evidence that phones are the culprit, as people tend toward using their dominant hand to hold their phones.
It was only talking on the phone that seemed to produce negative impacts. Texting or otherwise not holding these weird devices against your skull doesn't you with a sufficiently dangerous dose of RF-EMF. Not yet anyway.
The authors of the study say that it's not conclusive evidence yet, as studying the dangers posed by wireless tech is a pretty new field of inquiry. According to Martin Röösli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss TPH:
"It is not yet clear how RF-EMF could potentially affect brain processes or how relevant our findings are in the long-term."
Röösli was sure to state that further research was needed to rule out other sources of memory damage before coming to conclusions:
"For instance, the study results could have been affected by puberty, which affects both mobile phone use and the participant's cognitive and behavioural state."
Even still, it doesn't look too good, and even though it's a new field of inquiry research has been starting to accumulate which suggests EMF radiation might be a bigger problem than we first assumed. Martin Röösli continued on to give a couple pointers on how you can stop your cute, helpful, and utterly nonthreatening robot helper from melting your brain and eating your memories:
"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."
See, even that's creepy. When you think it's at its most docile, that's when it's really trying to get you.