5 Crazy Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain Right Now | Summary and Q&A

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September 7, 2014
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5 Crazy Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain Right Now

TL;DR

Social media and the internet are affecting the brain by causing addiction, impairing multitasking abilities, creating phantom vibrations, triggering dopamine release, and changing relationship dynamics.

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Key Insights

  • 🌍 Social media addiction can have similar effects on the brain as drug dependence, leading to impairments in emotional processing, attention, and decision-making.
  • πŸ“± Heavy media users who constantly switch tasks perform worse in multitasking tests, as increased online multitasking reduces the brain's ability to filter out interferences and commit information to memory.
  • πŸ“³ Phantom Vibration Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where individuals mistakenly perceive an itch as a vibration from their phones, highlighting how technology can rewire our nervous systems.
  • πŸ’Š Social media triggers the release of dopamine, leading to increased brain activity in the reward centers when discussing one's own views, which explains the self-involved nature of social media communication.
  • 🀝 Relationships that start online tend to result in higher levels of liking and successful partnerships, suggesting that the internet has positively influenced the development of meaningful connections.
  • πŸ’» The AsapSCIENCE team engages with their audience on various social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google+, and encourages viewers to ask questions and share their own insights.
  • πŸ“© AsapSCIENCE now has a PO Box, allowing science lovers to send mail or other items to the team, further promoting audience engagement and interaction.
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Transcript

With social media sites being used by β…“ of the entire world, they’ve clearly had an major influence on society. But what about our bodies? Here are 5 crazy ways that social media and the internet are affecting your brain right now! Can’t log off? Surprisingly, 5-10% of internet users are actually unable to control how much time they spend online. T... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the similarities between social media addiction and drug dependence?

Social media addiction and drug dependence have similar effects on the brain, as brain scans have shown impairments in regions related to emotional processing, attention, and decision making in both cases. This suggests that the psychological addiction to social media can have tangible effects on brain structure and function, akin to substance dependence.

Q: How does social media affect multitasking abilities?

Contrary to popular belief, heavy social media users perform worse in task-switching tests compared to others. Increased multitasking online reduces the brain's ability to filter out distractions, making it harder to commit information to memory. This means that constantly switching between work and social media can impair productivity and cognitive functioning.

Q: What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

Phantom Vibration Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where individuals perceive vibrations from their phones, even when their phone did not actually vibrate. This phenomenon affects approximately 89% of test subjects, suggesting that our brains have become so accustomed to the constant presence and notifications of our smartphones that it interprets other stimuli, such as an itch, as a vibration from the phone.

Q: Why does social media trigger the release of dopamine?

Social media triggers the release of dopamine, the "feel good" chemical, in the brain. MRI scans have shown that the reward centers in the brain are more active when individuals talk about their own views or share personal experiences on social media. This self-involved communication stimulates the same part of the brain associated with orgasms, motivation, and love, leading to a desire for more social media engagement to experience the neurological excitement.

Q: How do relationships starting online compare to those formed face-to-face?

Studies have found that relationships that begin online tend to be more successful compared to those formed through face-to-face interactions. This could be attributed to factors such as increased anonymity or clear communication about future goals online. While the internet has changed verbal communication and increased physical separation, it has also facilitated closer connections in meaningful relationships.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Social media addiction causes similar impairments in brain regions related to emotional processing, attention, and decision making, as seen in drug dependence.

  • Heavy social media use leads to worse performance in multitasking and reduces the brain's ability to filter out distractions and remember information.

  • Phantom Vibration Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where individuals feel their phone vibrating even when it did not, affecting almost 90% of test subjects.

  • Social media triggers the release of dopamine, stimulating the reward centers in the brain and promoting self-involved communication.

  • Studies have shown that relationships starting online tend to be more successful compared to those formed through face-to-face interactions.

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