Major investigation set to uncover effect of mobile phones on children's brains

After a call from the World Health Organization (WHO), it has emerged that the government plans to run an investigation into the theory that mobile phones can affect a child's mental development.

Funded by both government and industry, the study will begin in September of this year and will follow 2,500 children between 11 and 12 years of age.

Read more: UK kids can use phones but not building blocks, teachers worry

Focusing on the outer London areas, over 160 secondary schools will receive invitations of enrolment into the study. It is expected to focus on their cognitive ability and motor skills.

After gathering information on their thinking skills, memory and attention, the test will be repeated in 2017 for correlation.

This comes after the researchers claimed that "very little" is known about the effects of wireless technologies on the development of adolescents, and it is now "highest priority" research. The theory is that children's brains may be more susceptible to harmful effects, as they are still developing.

Led by Imperial College London, the theory will be put to the test by surveys that ask children and their parents about the use of their mobile phones and wireless devices.

Until now, the majority of research on mobile phone use has focused on the effects it has on adults, particularly running the risk of brain cancer. The investigations have, however, remained inconclusive.

Read more: 10% of British children given first phone by the time they're five

Despite this, the NHS has advised anyone under the age of 16 to limit the use of mobile phones for essential purposes and, to use hands-free kits wherever possible.

Leading the investigation, Dr Mireille Toledano said, "The advice to parents is based on the precautionary principle given in absence of available evidence and not because we have evidence of any harmful effects."

Researchers are now writing to 160 secondary schools in outer London, in the hope that pupils will want to take part in the study.