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Study finds excessive internet use alters teen brains

Study finds excessive internet use alters teen brains

Teen Brain

A new study reveals that excessive internet use can significantly alter the brain chemistry of young people, potentially leading to further addictive behaviors and negative impacts on mental health, development, and physical coordination. The research, published in PLOS Mental Health, analyzed previous studies that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity in individuals with internet addiction. The scans showed increased activity in certain brain regions during rest, along with decreased functional connectivity in areas involved in active thinking, such as memory and decision-making.

Max Chang, the lead author and a master’s student at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, emphasized the vulnerability of the adolescent brain to internet addiction-related urges. “Adolescence is a crucial developmental stage during which people undergo significant changes in their biology, cognition, and personalities,” Chang said. The study suggests that compulsive internet usage can lead to negative behavioral and developmental changes in teenagers, affecting their relationships, social activities, eating habits, and sleep patterns.

How internet affects teen brains

Irene Lee, a senior author of the study, acknowledged the advantages of the internet but cautioned against its excessive use. When it begins to affect our daily lives, it becomes a problem,” Lee stated.

The authors recommend that young people set sensible time limits for their daily internet usage and be aware of the psychological and social implications of spending too much time online. They also emphasize the importance of parental education on internet addiction as a means of public health prevention. By educating parents on recognizing early signs of internet addiction and managing their children’s screen time and impulsivity, the risk factors associated with this issue can be reduced.

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The findings highlight the need for effective treatments targeting specific brain regions and therapy to manage the symptoms of internet addiction in young people.

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