Giving children mobile phones can lead to worse academic performance - major Irish study

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Adrian Weckler

New Irish research claims that giving a mobile phone to a child aged 9 can lead to worse academic performance over time.

The research, conducted among 8,500 children between the ages of nine and 13, is the result of a collaboration between the ESRI, the Department of Communications and the telecoms regulator, ComReg.

It claims that children who own a mobile phone at age 9 scored 4pc less on average in standardised reading and maths tests at age 13.

It also found that 40pc of children aged nine own a mobile phone.

However, it also found that children attending “socially disadvantaged” schools are “more likely” to have mobile phones. Similarly, children with parents “who have higher incomes and higher levels of education” are less likely to owntheir own mobile phones at age 9, according to the research.

Nevertheless, the study claims that “the observed association between mobile phone ownership and test scores remains when we take account of many of the factors which typically influence test scores such as socioeconomic class”.

“This is the first time the ESRI has looked at the impact of mobile phone ownership on children’s academic development,” said Selina McCoy, associate research professor at the ESRI.

“It is important to keep monitoring this going forward in order to provide evidence for the growing debate about the potential effects of screen time and mobile phone use of young people in Ireland.”