Thursday, April 18

5 Ways Social Media Changes Your Brain

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It’s no secret that technology has changed the way we live and think – and it’s also no revelation that the ying-yang philosophy is relevant to almost everything. Looking specifically at technology, as much as it has helped us evolve as a species (see the great strides of Elon Musk and Tesla) there is also a darker side which is easily overlooked with our heads bent to the phone. This is especially true when we focus on Social Media and the effects it has on the brain. So, how does scrolling your social feed affect your day-to-day habits?

It Changes Your Eating Habits

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Food Porn and Overeating

Eating with your eyes has never been more real – friends and families constantly capturing beautiful shots of their meals at this and that food place, restaurants taking perfect money shots of their drizzling cheese burgers, ice cream doused with chocolate sauce and milkshakes topped with Oreos, chocolate flakes, and yummy marshmallows… It’s what we call Food Porn and companies pay a great deal of money for top class imagery to lure you in because of its significant effect on eating behaviours. For one, you crave foods you usually wouldn’t and it increases the hunger hormone ghrelin causing you to overeat.

Psychologist Susan Albers, Psy.D., author of Eating Mindfully says,

“Like the sexual kind, food porn allows us to lust after taboo things, and now it’s on our terms: We can search for exactly what turns us on, enlarge the images, and linger for as long as we want.”

You Compare Yourself To Others

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Social media aims to connect you with family and friends, instead, has the opposite effect when overused. You begin to compare yourself to others and feelings of envy, misery, and loneliness arise. Studies from two German researchers confirm these aftermath emotions.

Negative Experiences

Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” “From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site.”

You Are Inclined To Spend More

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Overwhelming and Subtle Advertising

Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world – meaning, the amount of money it has to pay for top class marketers and advertising companies is substantial. Companies alternatively pay Facebook to advertise and boost audience range which means you are constantly encountering ads. This is not just with Facebook but with Google too. And this influx of constant advertising has an effect on behaviour in terms of self-control which causes the unnecessary splurge.

Thinking For Yourself Becomes More Difficult

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Online Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is not exempt from social media. Studies on a group teenagers found a sort of subconscious peer pressure lingering in the user. Regardless of the type of image shown or what it presented, they were more prone to “like” an image if it was popular already. This includes comments and statuses.

Unable to think independently

Another study found that when you disagree with the mass opinion you are seen as stubborn. All in all, social media affects the ability to think independently.

Your Ability To Have Face-To-Face Interactions Deteriorate

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Short Attention Span

Being present in a conversation is becoming increasingly more difficult and this may have detrimental effects on our personal relationships. For one, it affects our attention spans hindering our ability to be aware and stay present in conversations.

Susan Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and the director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, says – My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.

Disengagement

A paper written by Dr. Sigman called “The biological implications of social networking impressed that electronic networking is causing disengagement with real life interactions.

People “are physically and socially disengaged from the people around them because they are wearing earphones, talking or texting on a mobile telephone, or using a laptop or Blackberry.”

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