Mobile phones are making children dumb

dunceA recent study conducted in Australia suggests that mobile phone usage is making children dumb. The study found that children who used mobile phones a lot were more impulsive and more prone to making errors.

The study required children to perform a series of computerised tests measuring intelligence, memory and learning ability and then compared this to their self-reported levels of mobile phone use. It was found that children who used their phones the most were more inclined to jump to a response before they were even sure of the answer and that, while this increased their speed in performing the tasks, it also had a severe impact on their level of accuracy.

Roughly 90% of 11 – 12 year olds now own a mobile phone and also an astonishing 1 in 4 under 8’s also have a handset. With this high level of children using the devices people have become concerned that their increased impulsiveness is has going to have drastic consequences on society in the years to come.

The problem is thought to stem mainly from text messaging and principally for those children who use predictive messaging. As the predictive messaging system does not require children to type out the full word they can expect to press just a few buttons and have the correct word they are looking for automatically appear. While many find this system useful it is being argued by Professor Michael Abramson, who headed the current research, that the system should be discouraged amongst children whose brains are still developing.

The Australian Professor stated “We suspect that using mobile phones a lot, particularly tools like predictive texts for SMS, is training them to be fast but inaccurate. Their brains are still developing so if there are effects then potentially it could have effects down the line, especially given that the exposure is now almost universal. The use of mobile phones is changing the way children learn and pushing them to become more impulsive in the way they behave.”

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