The Student News Site of Hazelwood West High School

West Gazette

Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

How does exposure to the online world affect the developing adolescent brain?

Bethany Cutkomp, Copy Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






As adolescents grow in a developing world of technology, the students of West have all been exposed to the internet and social media in one way or another. Whether it be on a phone, tablet, or computer, most people have had the experience of liking, commenting, or sharing. It all seems innocent enough, but how does it really affect an individual by you?

In a developing world of new technology, teens may feel like the world is at their fingertips. Suddenly, people are able to access everything that they may need, whether it be for educational purposes, entertainment, or social interaction. Being able to connect with just a click or a tap has led to a widely beneficial privilege across the world. Such an advantage may affect individuals so positively that they become oblivious to how it actually affects them both physically and mentally.

The brain has certain circuits that activate for different reasons. Studies have shown that the same activated brain circuits associated with winning prizes and eating sweets are activated when going on social media. In particular, looking at the number of ‘likes’ on a post triggers activity across a wide portion of the brain. This portion is known as the ‘feel-good’ region of the brain, more specifically called the brain’s reward circuitry. In other words, when you view how many people are interacting with your post, your brain is more or less rewarding you for it.

The brain rewards you for double-tapping and retweeting? Seems pretty great, but the internet has its downsides. Research has found that the internet, social media, and texting have led to heightened anxiety and lowered self confidence. As developing teenagers, peer acceptance is a crucial part of one’s self-esteem. By being exposed to the way their peers look on their feed, teenagers are more susceptible to self-loathing and jealousy. Both girls and boys obsess about their self-image and how they project themselves to their peers. This means that while the brain is rewarding you for how many people like your post, it is also hurting you mentally at the same time.

In a mental aspect, the good and the bad balance each other out. It may not seem like a big deal, but studies have proved that technology also affects people physically. A popular subject to focus on is sleep. It seems that a small screen and a little shut-eye, both equally pleasing to teenagers, have no correlation between each other, but the two actually go hand in hand.

Teenagers already go through a complicated sleep schedule, and this schedule can be messed up further by adding in a bright screen before dozing off. When preparing to sleep for the night, an ideal environment is one that is dark, quiet, and inactive. If a shining interactive screen is introduced, suddenly the brain is stimulated and active, which takes it longer to wind down to fall asleep.

Teens who visit social networks before bed tend to get nearly an hour less sleep than those who don’t get online. A recent study found that losing just one hour of sleep can negatively affect a student, especially in school performance. By scrolling through Facebook or Instagram before bed, memories are impeded and concentration is lost. Looking at a phone before going to sleep has led to sleep deprivation, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, constant mood swings, and even lower grades in school. Now it makes sense to why you see so many students asleep in class.

Everybody is impacted by technology in one way or another, for in a world of constant developments, it is nearly impossible to avoid. Children and teenagers are hit full-on with the internet and social media. It may seem bizarre, but by accessing the internet, the brain is impacted both positively and negatively. Just by checking the number of ‘likes’ that a post receives, the mind activates the reward circuitry which sends feel-good feelings through the body. However, social media has been tied to a decline in mental health, and may cause heightened anxiety and lowered self-confidence. In addition, technology impacts a teenager’s sleep schedule, which may lead to sleep-deprivation, memory loss, and eventually more complicated issues. All of these factors tie to a student’s performance in school and how they behave and work.

Does this mean that teenagers should avoid the internet completely? No. Technology is inevitable. In the prior information mentioned, studies have proven the most extreme. In other words, a little bit of social media will not kill you. It is actually healthy to connect with the world and the information it provides, but do so in moderation. Try to balance out time on the internet with time spent interacting with the real world. Go outdoors for a change, or try to shut the computer or the phone off an hour before going to bed.

The next time you scroll through Twitter, go on Snapchat, or anything of the sort, be aware of how your brain reacts, and how it may affect you in the long-run.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    Music Timeline

  • A&E

    Senior Lady Wildcats

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    Superbowl Commercials: The Good and the Bad

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    10 things to do in The Lou during Spring Break

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    A Tale as Old as Time

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    Cardinal Outlook

  • A&E

    Easy and Everyday Eye Looks

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    How to Maintain Natural Hair through Winter Months

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    Makeup Review: Buxom Lip Creams

  • Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!

    A&E

    Black Excellence in Cinema

The Student News Site of Hazelwood West High School
Technology, Internet, Social Media, Oh My!