What could be the impact of internet addiction on teenagers’ minds?

Experts from around the globe are closely studying the impact of screen-time on children, in order to raise awareness among parents and governments about the importance of limiting their exposure.

A team of UK researchers has also assessed the effects of Internet abuse on the brains of teenagers. This type of addiction can have a significant impact on their intellectual abilities and, more generally, their mental health.

Over the last few years, a number of scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the impact of screen time on children and teens.

While many of these studies focus on harmful effects, other are nuanced. This makes it difficult to take specific measures to limit screen time among young users. Scientists at University College London have conducted a new study that focuses on Internet usage and, more specifically, internet addiction.

Max Chang and Irene Lee analysed twelve neuroimaging studies on teenagers who were addicted to the Internet for the purpose of this study. The goal was to examine the brain for any changes caused by Internet addiction and, more specifically, to look at changes in brain connectivity that are important in behavior.

The analysis of these studies, published in PLOS Mental Health suggests that Internet-addicted teens have a disruption in the signalling between brain regions. This disruption was seen in Internet-addicted teens when they performed activities controlled by their brain’s “executive network”, i.e., behaviors involving attention and planning, as well as decision-making, impulsivity, and decision-making.

The academics have qualified their conclusions, saying that the “present answers only paint an incomplete picture which does not necessarily portray Internet usage as being overwhelmingly positive or negatively”.

The researchers believe that more studies with a larger group of participants will be needed to “confirm how Internet addiction affects the brain’s ability to control behavior and, therefore, our overall well-being”. AFP Relaxnews

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