A Smartphone Addiction May Cause Brain Imbalances, According to a Study

Smartphone Addiction
 Alexander Koerner / Stringer / Getty Images

Let’s get this out of the way: We all know that people spend way too much time on their smartphones. Indeed, a recent Pew Research study found that more than 45% of Americans admit they can’t imagine living without one.

However, too much online browsing can have negative consequences.

A study conducted by Hyung Suk Seo, M.D., professor of neuroradiology at Korea University, examined a number of young people (mostly teenagers) diagnosed with smartphone or Internet addiction. The work studied their brain activity through the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a type of brain scan.

After running a series of tests, the researchers found that the teenagers with a smartphone addiction were far more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and impulsivity. Likewise, the MRS scans revealed that the addicted teens had a higher level of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, in their brains. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is often linked to cases of anxiety and depression.

Thankfully, the increase in GABA is not permanent, and the researchers believe it can be normalized with proper therapy.

This isn’t to say that smartphones are the cause of all society’s ills. But, like everything in life, moderation is key.