Parents have long asserted that smartphones are turning the brains of the next generation to mush, and there are plenty of theories about the dangers of smartphones. These devices have become a huge part of our lives, but are smartphones changing us. Science has a lot to say about your brain and your smartphone.
You’re Chemically Addicted
Since notifications constantly interrupt daily life, smartphones force people to multitask. Quickly transitioning from one task to another, increases stress hormones in the brain, even if your don’t feel stressed. Often, the subject of the notification is a text from a loved one or a tweet from a favorite celebrity. Since those notifications are joyous things, they release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces happy feelings.
The increased stress of checking notifications makes you want more joy, so you reach for the phone more often to increase dopamine levels. This leads to more stress, so you need more dopamine to feel happy again. Humans can very easily become chemically addicted to overusing smartphones.
Your Brain is Always Alert
The brain forms habits based on experiences. Longterm smartphone use trains the brain to be in a constant state of alarm. What happens when your phone rings?
If you’re like most people, you drop everything you’re doing and rush to see what’s going on. Considering the fact that the average person receives several calls and notifications every day, this need to listen out for and respond to the smartphone leaves the brain in a constant state of minor stress.
Your Brain Shrinks
Smartphones change the structure of the brain. In a recent study, doctors compared the MRIs of regular people with the MRIs of medically diagnosed smartphone addicts. The gray matter, an important area of the brain, in the brain’s of the addicts was shrinking. This same phenomenon has been observed in the brains of people addicted to illicit drugs.