Your Brain on Social Media

Recent research has been done to see what happens to teens’ brains when they’re on Instagram. The researchers started by looking at what parts of the brain are activated when teens look at Instagram posts. Then, they studied what a normal response was when looking at pictures on non-social media platforms. They saw that fun, positive images caused the part of the brain that is related to wanting more of what is seen to activate. When teens saw illegal, risky images the part of the brain that tells us to stop was activated.

When the same pictures were shown on an Instagram-like platform, the markers suggested that the dangerous pictures were “liked” a lot. The platform seemed to alter teens’ brain reactions. In short, it seemed that teens lost their inhibitions towards dangerous and illegal stuff just because the picture was popular on social media. This means what you see on social media is influencing your values and behaviors—without your even realizing it. Companies, politicians, celebrities, and others may use this to try and change your preferences, attitudes, and even how you think.

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