TUESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The impact of social media on young people is a hot topic, with most children and teens wanting to do whatever their friends worry about setting limits.
A new study examines whether frequent checking of social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) is associated with these early adolescent developmental changes in brain function around age 12.
Using a brain scan called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that habitually refreshing or checking social media is a social reward or punishment. found that it may be associated with altered brain sensitivity to .
“Adolescence has been shown to be one of the most critical periods for brain development, with changes in reorganization secondary to those seen in early childhood,” says Psychology. said study author Eva Telzer, associate professor of neuroscience. “It’s a very dramatic period of brain development, especially in those brain regions that respond to social rewards.”
Social Rewards are not limited to social media sites. They can be positive face-to-face feedback from peers or even receiving money.
But Facebook likes are also social rewards.
Other studies show that some young people use their mobile phones almost all the time and check social media at least every hour.
In a three-year study, Telzer’s team recruited 169 sixth and seventh graders from three public middle schools in rural North Carolina. Participants were racially diverse and included both boys and girls.
Participants reported how often they checked the three social media platforms, varying from less than once a day to more than 20 times a day. Researchers used this information to create a scale.
Participants then underwent fMRI brain scans. During these scans, cues are displayed that the social feedback is rewarding, punishing, or neutral. After that, I had to press the button as soon as the target appeared. Teens will get social rewards or punishments.
“We took pictures of their brains and asked which brain regions were activated when they saw these social rewards and, in response to predicting feedback from their peers, which brain regions were affected by this.” You can check if it has changed in 3 years.
Participants who checked social media more than 15 times a day when they were 12 years old “did see a difference in the way their brains developed over the next three years,” Telzer said. “And it’s in specific brain regions that detect environmental salience and respond to those social rewards.” .
Telzer says this suggests that teens, who have grown up checking social media constantly, are hypersensitive to feedback from their peers.
“Their brains are responding more and more to the social reward feedback they expect, year after year,” Telzer said.
It is not clear what this means for their future.
This can make the brain increasingly sensitive to social feedback, which can continue into adulthood, says Telzer.
But the researchers haven’t tried to confirm whether this trajectory can be altered.
Brain changes may drive compulsive or addictive social media behaviors, but they may also reflect adaptations that help teens navigate an increasingly digital world. I have.
“I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. If teenagers’ brains are adapted to navigate and react to the world they live in, that’s a very good thing.” Maybe,” Telzer said. “It can potentially be maladaptive if obsessions and addictions increase and the ability to participate in the social world is lost.”
She said parents can help teens by promoting activities that bring them joy without being online, such as sports, arts and volunteerism.
“It’s a suggestive and relevant study,” said Dr. Kevin Staley, a neurologist and director of pediatric neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who reviewed the findings. “We are all concerned that compulsive use of social media may affect adolescent development.”
He said more research would be needed to know with certainty that social media causes changes in the adolescent brain. You can see what happens when you take your phone away for six months.
Staley added that while fMRI is an intriguing window into the brain, it is still crude given the complexity of brain circuitry.
“There are many things these circuits could be doing, but we have no chance of knowing what they are doing,” he said.
Still, Staley said parents want to know how social media affects their kids and whether they should limit it.
“This study is like an early stepping stone on the evidence trail that gives us reasons to act in certain ways.
For now, parents should use common sense when it comes to social media.
“I think it reinforces how much things change in early adolescence,” Staley said. But it’s difficult for a reason: the brain undergoes rapid changes as we approach adulthood. I have.”
The findings were published online on January 3 in JAMA Pediatrics.
For more information
Pew Research has more information about teens and social media.
Source: Eva Telzer, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her Kevin Staley, M.D., neurologist and chief of pediatric neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. JAMA Pediatrics, January 3, 2023, Online
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