What Social Media is doing to Our Brains


Nesha Adler-Eldridge, writer

We all know that social media is addicting, but what is it that makes it so?  Social media is a huge factor in most everyone’s life, 2020 studies concluded that the average person spends 3 hours a day on it. Social media can be apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and so on. Having these apps gives people needless things to do on them while quickly taking time out of their days. Let’s dig into more detail on how our brains function with our devices.


According to neuroscientists, getting notifications of things such as a “like” on one of your posts causes your brain to send a chemical messenger along a reward pathway. This chemical messenger is called dopamine. Dopamine is associated with things like food, love, gambling, and even drugs-things that can make you overly happy. The positive feedback that social media “likes” gives to your brain brings forth craving for more. 


Minimal effort is required for simple thumb tapping, therefore making our brains rewire themselves into desiring simple likes, retweets, comments, and emoji applause. And since receiving these rewarding feedbacks is delivered randomly and is easy to access, checking for them becomes a very constant habit.


Dopamine driven bad habits are the platform for worse consequences. Carrying our phones in our pockets all the time is correspondent with carrying small dopamine stimulators. And since we have our devices around us all the time, we get phantom vibration syndrome, which makes us think our phone’s are buzzing when they’re not. The more time we spend on social media, the more we are fed with rewards and compliments. 


On social media we spend our time “talking” about ourselves about 80% of the time, while in real life we only do about 30-40% of the time. Scientists who studied social media addicts (about 10% of social media users are addicted and cannot psychologically control how much time they spend online) brain’s and concluded that there are obvious changes in the emotion, attention and decision-making parts of the brain.


The scientific evidence for social media altering our brain chemistry is all too visible. But there are just so many benefits to social media that keeps us from choosing to give out. Contacting family and friends, finding new people and learning new things all take part in being on social media. But gaining things like depression and anxiety do as well. Yes, we know, it’s important to take breaks from social media. But do we really? Taking two minute eye breaks after watching Tiktok for hours might not do too much. It’s a major part of our lives no matter how we perceive it, let’s all try to use the best of our time.