The Loh Down On Science


This is your teenager’s brain on social media. Hashtag: no filter!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Has your kid’s phone become a staple at the dinner table?

Teenagers' brains have been scanned while they used social media in a first-of-its-kind study. Researchers at U C L A surveyed around 30 teens to see how their brains responded to “likes.” They created a social network similar to Instagram. Teens submitted photos and the researchers randomly assigned number of “likes” to each image.

The teens could later view these photos and see the numbers of “likes” they received. They could also “like” other pics. Meanwhile, the researchers analyzed brain activity using a type of M R I.

What happened when teens saw that their photos got lots of  “likes”? A region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens [ah-CUHM-bens] lit up. Activating this part of the brain is triggered by rewarding experiences. Like eating chocolate or winning money!

So is your kid hooked on social media? Hand them some chocolate or up the allowance instead. What’s not to like?

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