Could being addicted to tech affect your brain like being addicted to drugs or alcohol?
A few weeks ago Newsweek reporter Tony Dokoupil wrote a cover story for the magazine titled ""Tweets. Texts. Email. Posts. Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?"
In the article, Tony referenced a Chinese study that looked at people addicted to the internet. The researchers found 'abnormal white matter'—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas of the brain charged with attention, control, and executive function.
A similar study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts.
Tony points out that earlier research done in China linked Internet addiction to 'structural abnormalities in gray matter. That study found shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion and sensory information.
Worse yet, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of 'atrophy.'
In his Newsweek story, Tony says "In less than the span of a single childhood, Americans have merged with their machines … [and] more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed. Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking."
I don’t know if any Western researchers have come to the same conclusions about internet use and brain function--but the Chinese studies are certainly reason for caution. To read the full story, just go to Newsweek.com and enter “Internet Brain” in the search engine.
I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.