Study: Social Media “Rewiring” Your Child’s Brain
If your tween or teen is like most of our kids in New Jersey, and constantly on social media, there’s not a lot to “like.” That’s according to a study from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where researchers discovered popular social media platforms actually can ‘rewire’ adolescent brains, addicting them to ‘likes.’
During that time of development, there are “significant structural and functional reorganization changes” going on in the adolescent brain, say the researchers. “Neural regions involved in motivational relevance and affective become hyperactive, orienting teens to rewarding stimuli in their environment, particularly from peers.” In non-science speak, that means “doing it for the likes” or hearts, or thumbs-up becomes an obsession.
The study looked at the social media behavior of 169 sixth and seventh grade students at three public schools in North Carolina over a three year period. Some participants admitted checking platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram as many as 20 times a day. Other research showed 35% of people in this demographic scan their socials “almost constantly.”
The researchers say such behavior makes social media users crave the ‘likes’ from stuff they post, and fear finding negative feedback. The UNC study says young people who check their socials more than 15 times a day are at the highest risk. “Our findings suggest that checking behaviors on social media in early adolescence may tune the brain’s sensitivity to potential social rewards and punishments,” says the researchers’ findings, which were published in JAMA Pediatrics.
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