Neuroplasticity, Social Media Addiction and Your Brain.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change itself according to its environment. This means we can adapt, learn and improve our brain function with specific brain exercise and stimulation of weakened or underdeveloped areas. This is great news when we want to enhance our thinking, movement, learning and quality of life.

Well, this is great news…….. most of the time!

Social Media Addiction

Research is telling us that when we subject our brains to prolonged episodes of social media, the internet and general screen time, we can cause harmful changes to our brain which are not helpful to our physical, mental or emotional health and relationships.

Young girls at a cafe using social media on their phones

Studies are telling us that social media, the internet and screen time are:

” as addictive as a drug…” Researchers have found that behaviours associated with addiction such as introversion, withdrawal, and craving are found in people using high amounts of data and time online. The brain’s ‘Dopamine’ based reward pathways are being hyper-plasticised and are overpowering other healthier social-brain and human behaviours such as face-to-face social connection and empathy.This is similar to what happens in a person who is addicted to drugs.

Long times spent on screens are also changing our brains in other ways: Screens are: “shortening our attention span”, “making us more prone to distraction” and limiting our ability to concentrate and stay on task. Screens promote social anxiety, and alter our children’s precious sense of self with continued exposure to sensationalism, as well as the artificial world of perfection often represented in social media.

Stanford University researchers suggest screens are diminishing our productivity in work and school and reducing our ability to multi-task and perform well.

Dr. Michelle’s Screen Time Recommendations:

Beware parents, protect your children from these harmful brain changes that can be lifelong but can also be prevented with sensible screen time and social media management.

  1. No screen before school or after dinner (unless it’s homework)
  2. Maximum 1 hour per day of screen time per child. (this includes iPad, tablets, iPhone’s, laptops, TV, PlayStation, etc)
  3. Always use ‘Night mode’ after dark so as to minimise blue light exposure.
  4. Invest in apps such as ‘iPact’ and ‘Family Zone’ which can limit the time children have access to online material and monitor its content so that its age-appropriate.

Sources: NIB Blog Post.