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The Negative Impact of Social Media on Developing Brains

In the modern day, youths have heavily relied upon social media apps such as Instagram and Tik Tok as means to communicate or interact with one another. However, rather than spending less than two hours as advised by experts, an average adolescent has spent about 7 hours and 22 minutes on their technologies. Despite such benefits, it has left a negative impact on one’s developing brains.

One negative impact has resulted in reduced attention. According to Epigram, one’s “attention span [has reduced] from twelve to five minutes”. For example, if youths were to be doing something, a simple notification on their phone can result in them losing their focus. This can cause them to see a decrease in their school performances as they will not be able to focus on their studies. This could all be because of structural changes in their brain. Based on a study done in France and the United Kingdom, it has led to a “diminished gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex” (Pepperdine) which could result in one’s brain not functioning properly as a result of the loss of gray matter. Another negative impact has resulted in mental health issues. This is because of the cyberbullying that occurs on most social media apps. More than 30% of students have experienced cyberbullying by their peers and even strangers, and this has resulted in increased anxiety and stress. Such added stress has negatively affected the brain. For example, according to Nationwide Children’s, “toxic stress weakens the architecture of the developing brain, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.”

So how can one prevent from experiencing such negative impacts? It can be started by attempting to reduce one’s screen time or at least the time one spends on social media apps. Although it allows for youths to connect with one another, it’s as vital to stay in the moment and spend time elsewhere. As well, when one experiences cyberbullying, it’s important that one reports to a trusted adult as such issues can get out of hand when handled alone.


18+ Teen & Kids Screen Time Statistics (2022): Avg. Screen Time for Teens vs. Recommendations

Brain health consequences of digital technology use - PMC

Is technology causing our attention-span to shrink?

Technology's Effects on our Brains & Bodies - Relationship IQ Blog | Boone Center for the Family

Toxic Stress: How the Body's Response Can Harm a Child's Development

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