How Social Media Impacts The Brain

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

Social media has drastically changed the way we communicate, learn, share, and engage with the world. It is also changing the way our brain functions. According to Pew Research, “More than 69% of adults and 81% of teens use social media daily with more than 90% of our teens using it for more than four hours a day.” The constant ability to access social media through smartphones means our brains are exposed to high volumes of stimulation and our neurons are firing all day long, which creates changes in the neurological architecture of our brains. Research demonstrates regular social media use is changing our brains structure, function, and cognitive development in three key areas. First, our attention capacity.

When using apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat users are viewing what seems like an endless scroll of photos, captions, comments, tags, and likes. While users are processing this constant influx of information, additional app prompts and notifications are competing for attention and can cause individuals to displace their concentration across multiple incoming media streams. This puts our brain in a constant state of multitasking thus hindering our ability to focus and shortening our attention span. Researchers believe that since social media competes for your attention with the promise of continuous new content, heavy social media users become less able to ignore distraction in general, which leads to poor cognitive performance and shrinks parts of the brain associated with maintaining concentration. Secondly, memory and information processing.

Studies suggest social media affects the content of memories, the recollection of memories, and the capacity of memory. Millions of people use social media to record and share their experiences, but new research shows that using social media apps to document and experience may actually diminish your memory of the moments you sought to preserve. With the advent of social media and smartphones we know where to find information or proof about the event, but we don’t keep as many details about the experience stored internally in our memory. Number three, social and emotional response. Social media is made to be addictive. Each like or positive comment presents a little hit a dopamine to our brain thus creating reward pathways in the brain, which make you desire likes and retweets, et cetera. However, the absence of likes and comments and retweets can leave us feeling empty, sad, anxious, or even depressed because our brain isn’t getting that hit of dopamine.

Researchers show regular social media users, especially those under the age of 30 often find themselves comparing their lives to those they see online, questioning whether they’re self-worth and overanalyzing their relationships and importance to those in their social media circle based on their social media presence. Studies have shown interactions people experience online, whether positive or negative can start to shape users’ behavior in their real world experiences. For example, people may feel additional pressure to present their sort of “ideal self” and go out of their way to take photos just for social media usage. Number three, avoid over stimulation from social media. You should limit your screen time to only about 35 to 45 minutes of social media time a day and designate a specific time of day to use the apps. You should also try and relax your mind. Instead of reaching for your tablet or your smartphone to scroll through a social app, take a 15 minute walk around the block or practice meditation in a quiet area of your home away from the electronics.

In short, be kind to your brain and limit social media. Wanna learn more about your brain and how it functions? Call and schedule your brain map today!


Posted on

February 1, 2023