SCAMP STUDY FINDINGS: Exposure Validation

28 Feb 2018

We recently published some research using SCAMP data. Here is a summary of this research paper:

Mobile phone use, predominantly smartphones, is almost universal amongst both adults and children. However adults and children have different usage patterns. A major challenge with research on mobile phone use is how reliable self-report questionnaires are for estimating actual phone use.

We investigated the agreement between self-reported mobile phone use data and objective mobile operator (eg. EE, Vodafone) traffic data in a subset of adolescents aged 11–12 years participating in the Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones (SCAMP) cohort. We examined self-reported mobile phone use, including call frequency, cumulative call time duration and text messages sent among adolescents from SCAMP and matched these data with records provided by mobile network operators (n = 350). The extent of agreement between self-reported mobile phone use and mobile operator traffic data use was evaluated.

Agreement between self-reported mobile phone use and mobile operator traffic data was highest for the duration spent talking on mobile phones per day on weekdays (38.9%) and weekends (29.4%) compared to frequency of calls and number of text messages sent. Adolescents overestimated their mobile phone use during weekends compared to weekdays. There was little difference overall between the sexes and socio-economic groups. The SCAMP questionnaire was good at correctly identifying call frequency for low mobile phone users on weekdays and weekends.

Overall, our findings demonstrate that self-reported usage adequately distinguishes between high and low mobile phone use. However, the greater use of mobile smartphones over Wi-Fi networks by adolescents, as opposed to mobile phone networks, means operator data may no longer be as useful as it once was for assessing overall mobile phone use in this age group. This has important implications for future research on the health effects of mobile phone use in adolescents.

For more information, the paper can be found here.