What is All That Phone Interaction Doing to Our Teen’s Brains?
Teenagers love their smartphones. Most parents of modern teenagers know that the majority of the time teens are checking their phones, engaging with apps on their phones, talking to friends on their phones, listening to music on their phones, or frantically searching for their phones because it has been absent too long. Millennials and generations below millennials have been labeled narcissists for their obsession with selfies. Professionals have warned that technology addiction is real and acting like “screen heroin” for children. Researchers have investigated the numerous effects of spending excess amounts of time attached to smartphones, engaging with technology, and with social media. Depression, poor body image, low self-esteem, and exposure to cyberbullying have all been found to result from prolonged smartphone and technology use. Engineers and designers have admitted that they used design and psychological theory from slot machines and gamblings to keep people engaged with their apps and devices.
Big Think reports on a Pew Research Center poll which found that 73% of adolescents have a smartphone of their own, or they can access a smartphone. Of the 73% of adolescents who have a smartphone or have access to a smartphone, 96% of them go on the internet every day. The neuroradiology department at Korea University conducted a small but informative research study into the neurobiology of the teenage brain which is “addicted” to smartphones, technology, or the internet. The article explains that just 19 participants were used with an average age of 15 years old, 9 of which were boys. Addiction was evaluated using a standard process. Teens with an addiction to their smartphone were more likely to be anxious, depressed, have impulse control problems, and sleep disorders. 19 other teens were used as healthy controls.
Using MRS, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers watched biochemicals moving in the brains of the participants. Teens who were addicted to their smartphones or the internet found chemical imbalances. Researchers also found that the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain proven to be connected to addiction, had a higher activity of producing GABA. Gamma Aminobutyric Acid slows down the brain, inhibits integration, regulation, cognitive functions, and emotional functions. From this, researchers were able to conclude that smartphone addiction truly changes the chemistry of the brain.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain, too, which is why addiction only worsens, never progresses. The answer is abstinence and a foundation of recovery provided by a specialized treatment center like Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center. We offer long term residential care in addition to academic support to adolescent and teenage boys. Start living your recovery as a family today by calling us at: 662-598-4214