Research presented yesterday at the Radiological Society of North America showed that brains of adolescents addicted to smartphones and the internet are measurably different than the brains of normal adolescents.
The study, conducted by professors at Korea University in Seoul, North Korea, used a technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to evaluate the brains of 19 teens diagnosed with a smartphone or internet addiction and 19 average teens. The goal was to measure each teen’s level of two types of neurotransmitters: GABA and Glx. GABA is crucial to vision and motor control, and regulates brain functions like anxiety. Glx speeds up the neurons within the brain. Maintaining the proper ratio of GABA to Glx is very important for mental health and quality sleep.
The researchers found that the addicted teens had higher ratios of GABA to Glx. Unsurprisingly, these teens were also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and insomnia. As part of the study, the twelve of the teens who were addicted to smartphones attended cognitive behavioral therapy for nine weeks. These teens’ GABA to Glx rations improved significantly after attending therapy, while the teens who did not attend therapy experienced no such improvement.
Smartphone and internet addiction is real, and its impact on teens is physical, emotional, and academic. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, struggle with their mental health, and get lower grades in school. The consequences of overusing electronics will affect their entire lives! It’s more important than ever to help kids develop healthy internet habits.
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