By Ramya Chamkeri

Since the invention of the first smartphone in 1992 (according to Business Insider), the ability and capacity of a phone has changed significantly. Now, a phone does not only serve the purpose of calling but also texting and browsing the internet, and because of this, phones are used often for day-to-day tasks. However, frequent phone usage can produce detrimental side effects, such as loss of memory.

To prove this, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) conducted a study on the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF – EMF) from wireless communication devices on the memory of adolescents. Swiss TPH conducted a cognitive test on seventh and eighth-grade students attending school in central Switzerland, which assessed behavioral problems and non-specific symptoms of health. Another follow-up investigation took place one year later.

The study concluded that the radiation emitted from the cell phone affected the teens’ brains — in fact, the effects on the adolescents were more pronounced in those who used their cell phone on the right side of their head.

According to ScienceDaily, figural memory is mostly concentrated in the right hemisphere of the brain. Additionally, HealthLine writes that the right hemisphere is responsible for controlling imagination, creativity, holistic thinking and intuition. Due to this, holding a phone close to the right ear can actually cause radio waves emitted from the phone to be absorbed by the brain, which is what causes the loss of figural memory. Even other aspects of phone usage, such as sending texts, playing games and browsing the internet, can cause RF – EMF exposure to the brain.

The effects of cell phone radiation aren’t well known and are yet to be acknowledged by many people. Unfortunately, phones play a vital role in many lives, according to senior Sadhana Indukuri.    

“My phone has both decreased productivity and increased it, so it kind of balances out because when I do get distracted, it’s usually because of my phone and I’m getting a bunch of notifications,” Indukuri said. “But then again, those notifications help me in other terms of life, like for example, if I’m getting messages from my boss, or if I’m getting messages from the club I run, my phone helps me in terms of keeping in contact and keeping on top of things.”

Avoiding the phone can be challenging for some like Indukuri, especially with apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

“I just try to turn it off when I have to not use it,” junior Soobin Yoon said. “I sometimes erase some apps that will give me notifications a lot.”

For some people, however, their methods of decreasing phone usage go above and beyond the standard method of turning their phone off.

“[My phone] didn’t really affect [my work ethic] because all I can use it for is to listen to music,” freshman Jean Mattekatt said. “My dad uses restrictions.”

Although phone restrictions and powering off phones help with controlling phone usage, according to one of the study’s authors Martin Roosli, the best way to avoid memory loss through phone usage would be by “using headphones or the loudspeaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at full power.”

Phones play a large part in the lives of people like Indukuri, so it may be almost impossible to completely stop cell phone usage, specifically near the right side of the brain. It would be best to follow Roosli’s advice and avoid holding phones too close to the head in order to avoid memory loss as much as possible.

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