Social media use is linked to brain changes in teens, research finds
January 4, 2023
The effect of social media use on children is a fraught area of research as parents and policymakers try to ascertain the results of a vast experiment already in full swing. Successive studies have added pieces to the puzzle, fleshing out the implications of a nearly constant stream of virtual interactions beginning in childhood.
A new study by neuroscientists at the University of North Carolina tries something new, conducting successive brain scans of middle-schoolers between the ages of 12 and 15, a period of especially rapid brain development.
The researchers found that children who habitually checked their social media feeds at around age 12 showed a distinct trajectory, with their sensitivity to social rewards from peers heightening over time. Teenagers with less engagement in social media followed the opposite path, with a declining interest in social rewards.