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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    Your Comments

    • Tina

      If you advertise things like brands or wear hats with logos. You ARE impacted. You are advertising yourself to other people. And your wearing it cause you saw it on tv of some other place.

    • aparna jha

      I love reading reader’s digest.

    • kanchalak kwan

      All of these truth are not happened to me but the thing that annoy me so much is hacker..yes tempting I know…advertising I know..But I have rock head and consciousness

      • kanchalak kwan

        Someone in my real life hide in my friend list and follow me as ghost.
        Chat with me and silent communicate in real life to make I know they are here. The kind of weird love and annoying as the daily bad and the employee who work here annoy me with his word and loudness. Many times he talk as he is here seeing and knowing what I chat and post here..these are weird.

        I feel as the psychosis follow me here that is really weird for me.

    • http://www.got2wearshades.typepad.com/blog bree hatfield

      I’m a heavy social media user but none of these is happening to me….looking at food photos don’t stimulate my appetite, and I don’t get envious of people’s photos, and I don’t give in to peer pressure (my goodness I’m 45 and I still would be pressured by others to think the same?), …gosh, what kind of study is this? i think it does not include a wide demographic, and just probably rely on surveys on a few people and of course, very controlled….

      • Luke Carroll

        Ever hear of something called anecdotal evidence? “Cigarettes aren’t that bad when it comes to causing cancer, I mean my auntie smoked two boxes a day from when she was 9 and lived until the age of 90!”
        Its good that you don’t have or haven’t noticed much of an impact on yourself, but that doesn’t mean that the evidence is wrong. I’m not picking on you or picking sides or anything, their evidence could have been badly conducted and on a small demographic like you say, just trying to help you see a flaw in the “Well in this one isolated case things went differently, and so these people must be completely wrong” kind of logic.

      • Laura

        Seeing food in general stimulates the salive glands and makes a person’s mouth automatically start watering. You’re 45, yet you don’t even know this? You can’t say you don’t do something that’s human nature and a natural occuring thing in our bodies.