Does social media affect your brain?

Trent Kessler

December 29th,2017, 7:24pm

Throughout the last decade, teenagers have been introduced to multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). This makes keeping in touch with your friends and family more accessible. I believe this causes many positives in people’s lives, but I also believe that is also causes many negatives in people’s lives as well. Do you think you were a different person before access to social media? Personally, I have seen my very own effects. When posting pictures on my Instagram, I am always patiently waiting for people to like my picture, but if people don’t like my picture I feel like I am posting something wrong. Likewise, when I post a tweet and don’t receive any likes or shares I feel let down internally. I also feel like that I hold myself back with my comments, just so I can fit in with the “crowd”.

A study was conducted by UCLA to scan thirty-two individuals as they used a social media app. The researchers discovered that certain parts of the brain were active when the user received likes. Lauren Sherman says, “When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of likes, they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain’s reward circuitry” (CNN, 2017). The study continues, finding out that the participants were more likely to like a picture when the picture appeared to be more popular with their peers. This means people want to conform with what most people agree with, even though they don’t agree with. This is interesting, because the decades before social media surfaced, people took pride into the fact that they had different opinions.

It is conclusive that social media does affect your brain, but how does it affect your brain positively? Social media has many positives on its users, social media can develop multi-tasking skills in its users. Twitter, at first appearance can be overwhelming, but after some time the user learns how to properly navigate throughout the interface. Twitter gives the user the opportunity to scroll through feed while reading and having the opportunity to like a tweet, share q tweet, or reply to a tweet; unknowingly building its users multi-tasking skills. Another positive influence social media gives people is the opportunity to socialize with an infinite amount of people. This gives individuals who are on the shyer side the opportunity to have communication with people that they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing a face to face conversation with. LinkedIn gives its users the opportunity to make professional relationships, with the hope to build your social network for the future. Both Twitter and LinkedIn have positive effects to their users. Twitter, lets it users have a voice and the ability to have their word spread throughout the community. LinkedIn gives its users the chance to highlight their achievements to professions, with the hope in finding a successful career. Lastly, Social media usually makes its users happy; they usually follow accounts that tend to make them happy. When a social media user is going through hardship, they have overwhelming support from the community.

Like everything in life, we cannot just focus on the positive. Unfortunately, social media has many negative effects on its users. Social media can lead individuals to lose sociable skills, because behind computer screens or phone screens for longs periods of time can lead to worse face to face social skills. Susan Greenfield says, “Perhaps future generations will recoil with similar horror at the messiness, unpredictability and immediate personal involvement of a three-dimensional, real-time interaction.” (Susan Greenfield, 2017). Ms. Greenfield is implying the more people have conversations through devices we lose a little by little face to face social skills. Researchers discovered that thirty three percent of people that log into Facebook suffer from low self-esteem. The researchers found that users often compare themselves to their friends, family, and celebrities; finding themselves inadequate. The last negative aspect of social media on the brain is losing the ability to think independently. On social media people find themselves trying to fit in the in-crowd and if you find yourself with a belief that not many people agree with then you will be peer pressured to change your opinion. We believe as people we must agree with something that gets a lot of attention and reception.

Yes, social media can affect your brain, but in a positive way and a negative way. If someone is feeling lonely, they can find refuge through social media platforms. They can surround themselves with stuff that could lift them up from the darkness that they feel. Adversely, social media can bring a happy person to their knees and feel helpless. Social media tends to make people feel like they are not good enough and ultimately pursue unhealthy lifestyles that could potentially harm that person. Like everything in life there is positive and a negative, but it is up to you to make the best decisions when it comes to social media. Hopefully in the next few years we figure out what truly happens neurologically when we use social media



East, Susie. “How does social media affect your brain.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Aug. 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/health/social-media-brain/index.html.

Beres, Damon. “5 Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain – Reader’s Digest.” Reader’s Digest, www.rd.com/health/wellness/negative-effects-of-social-media/.

Banerjee, Souvik. “5 Ways Social Media Positively Affects Mental Health.” RS Web Solutions, 25 Apr. 2017, www.rswebsols.com/tutorials/internet/ways-social-media-positively-affects-mental-health.