Social media: May change your kid’s brain

Cathy Brownfield

In 2019, WHO (the World Health Organization) published strict guidelines about children’s screen time. Why? Because intensive digital media use is thought to reduce working memory capacity, cause psychological problems from depression to anxiety and sleep disorders, and affects comprehension when reading screens.

“Reading complex stories or interconnected facts in a printed book leads to better recall of the story, of details, and of the connections between facts than reading the same text onscreen,” the report says.

Last week, an article was published, “I’m a Neurosurgeon. Social Media May Change Your Kid’s Brain” by Marc Argenteanu MD. One of the studies he cites elaborates on what social media does to kids’ brains. The study he cites involved 150 12-year-olds. The survey about social media use included Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Some of the children did not check social media more than once a day, if that. Others checked excessively, 20 times or more a day.

Over a period of three years, annual functional MRIs were done on each child to evaluate the brain, its activity and anatomy. The results were alarming to the researchers.

“The scientists concluded that kids who check social media too often become hypersensitive to feedback from their peers,” writes Argenteanu. “In other words, these children may enter a pathological psychological state, swinging from joy to dread, craving positive electronic reinforcement and fearing any disapproval mirrored in their screens.”

Tiktok is considered the worst, actually being linked to an “epidemic” of Tourette’s cases among teen girls considered psychologically fragile. Instagram runs a close second.

“Electronic devices can stimulate the release of dopamine, a brain chemical involved in cravings and desire. It’s akin to a sugar high.”

There are concerns of brain atrophy (loss of gray matter) in the area of the brain that regulates empathy, emotion, impulse control and decision-making.

In the documentary, “Screenagers,” MRI scans of kids who spent 20 hours or more a week playing video games showed their brain scans were about the same as those of people addicted to alcohol or drugs, notes the good doctor.

The National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health features an article entitled, “The impact of the digital revolution on human brain and behavior: Where do we stand?” This article states that adolescence is a crucial period for brain development when the brain areas involved in emotional and social aspects are undergoing intensive changes. Social media might have a profound eff3ect on the adolescent brain due to the fact that they allow adolescents to interact with many peers at once without meeting them directly.

They say, though, that the effects may not be permanent if changes are made in the behavior. Less screen time can result in less loneliness and depression.

Get out there and meet face-to-face the way you used to. Everyone can use some quality time with others. Live. Laugh. Love.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.