Five ways that social media is changing your brain

Five ways that social media is changing your brain

Is networking working?

Image: Buro 24/7

We're living in a digitally dependent world, no doubt about it, and new studies by Toronto-based Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of AsapSCIENCE have detailed how the increased use of social media is affecting our brains


tep away from your multi-functioning Facebook account for five minutes and read five interesting facts about what it's really doing... 


1: Addiction. We all know what it's like to feel the need to check on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for no good reason at all other than to pass time, but studies have now shown that young people who use social media on a frequent basis actually have less capability to function the parts of the brain that control emotion, attention span and decision making, as opposed to those who use it little, and less often. That's because it's offering immediate 'rewards' with little effort, and that results in users wanting more and more. 

2: False Multi-Tasking: You would think that someone who is continually flitting between tabs of various social media portals, across a range of devices, is honing their abilities to multi-task. Wrong. It's indicated that increased ability to 'multi-task' online, means that your brain actually decreases its ability to commit other, probably more important, information to memory.

3: Phantom Vibration Syndrome: Yes, this is a real thing. Studies in America have proved that people can now confuse an itch with their phone vibrating, and that sudden feeling that your phone 'just went' or had a notification of some kind that requires looking at... When it hasn't. And it can occur at least a couple of times per fortnight. Technology rewiring nervous systems. Be aware.

it's offering immediate 'rewards' with little effort

4: Dopamine Release: Dopamine is the chemical that releases pleasurable reward feelings to the brain, and it's proven to be much more active when one is talking about their own views and feelings – ie. updating a mundane status, sharing 'selfie' images, and basically putting themselves first. People are 80% more likely to be communicating in a 'me-first' manner when using social media, and only about half of that during face-to-face interaction, when a conversation takes place and people share their views equally... And it's a theory only heightened when the audience figures are growing. Thousands of Instagram followers equals all the more dopamine, don't you know.

5: Online Partnerships: And finally, for a positive. It's a statistic fact that relationships that begin online and become personal, last longer. Whether this is because people can remain more anonymous at the beginning, or are more clear about their life goals when communicating in this way, we just don't know.

So while increased social media has separated us physically from reality in some ways, decreased our ability to multi-task and speak with friends and family members, perhaps it's upped the chances of meeting someone who will end up mattering the most... With a little damaged brain matter along the way.