How Social Media Affects Teen Brains

Social Media Affects Teen Brains

The frequency of use for social media affects teen brains

According to recent research done by the University of North Carolina, there was a discovery made upon how social media affects teen brains, especially in those who check it often. As they check their account feeds, they become more sensitive to peer criticism.

As part of the study, middle schoolers between the ages of 12 and 15 had their brains scanned by researchers. At the age of 12, those who checked their Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds regularly developed more reaction for receiving social acknowledgement and rewards from their peers. According to the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, teenagers who were on social media less often had declining interest in these desires.

Researchers did advise against drawing direct conclusions to how social media affects teen brains, as they frequently expand their social circles and can be impacted by a variety of factors.

“We can’t make causal claims that social media is changing the brain,” stated Eva H. Telzer, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and also the author of the study. “Teens who are habitually checking their social media are showing these pretty dramatic changes in the way their brains are responding, which could potentially have long-term consequences well into adulthood, sort of setting the stage for brain development over time,”

Depending on how frequently they used social media, about 170 sixth and seventh graders in North Carolina were divided into the following three groups — less than once per day, up to 14 times per day, and 15 times or more per day. While participating in a computer game that provided both positive and negative rewards from peers, they underwent three whole brain scans approximately a year apart. Researchers monitored brain activity affected by those rewards along with importance and regulation.

Whether it has a positive or negative effect, or both, there’s no doubt that social media affects teen brains. As the great saying goes, “Everything in moderation, in moderation.”


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