5 Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain

According to new research, your social networking habits might be affecting your brain more than you know.

By Damon Beres
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    Phillip Stewart via Flickr

    It might make you spend more money.

    New research suggests that heavy social media use might be correlated to lower self-control, which marketing experts believe could lead to higher spending. "Ultimately, the way you counteract this is by raising your self-awareness,” Columbia University Professor Keith Wilcox told TODAY. “It's not about don't spend time on Facebook, but just be aware of what it might be doing to you."

    Damon Beres

    It alters your appetite.

    According to Women's Health, "food porn" photos can activate the brain's reward center and compel viewers to overeat; one study suggests that even looking at food images after a meal can trigger hunger.

    Adam Fagen via Flickr

    It messes with your ability to think independently.

    One study from HP Labs found that people were more open to peer pressure within social networks. Subjects were more likely to change their minds about "liking" certain things (one cute baby over another, for instance) if enough time had passed and they could see that the other side was even moderately popular.

    Sarah Reid via Flickr

    It hurts your self-esteem.

    When two German universities joined forces to investigate social networking, researchers discovered that one in three people surveyed felt worse ("lonely, frustrated or angry") after spending time on Facebook, often due to perceived inadequacies when comparing themselves to friends.

    It can "butcher" real-life conversations.

    Susan Greenfield of Oxford University has compared online chats to buying prepackaged meat at a store: "Perhaps future generations will recoil with similar horror at the messiness, unpredictability and immediate personal involvement of a three-dimensional, real-time interaction."

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