Over Use of Social Media May Result in Gradual Brain Imbalance

NDTV Food  |  Updated: March 18, 2017 13:16 IST

Over Use of Social Media May Result in Gradual Brain Imbalance
  • Overuse of social media could be an invitation to brain imbalance
  • The imbalance occurs in two cognitive-behavioural systems in the brain
  • System one is automatic and reactive, and quickly triggered
Ever taken moment to wonder the amount of time you could be spending on the social media? Well, it's time you do. The urge to check the notifications, or just surfing the newsfeed of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may be taking abnormal amounts of your daily routine. This compulsive and problematic overuse of social media could be an invitation to a brain imbalance. As per the new study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems, higher rate of use of Social Networking sites can lead to an imbalance between two cognitive-behavioural systems in the human brain.

Humans have two different mechanisms in their brain that influence their decision-making, explained Hamed Qahri-Saremi, with the help of this dual system perspective, an established theory in psychology and neuroscience, researchers were led to their set of conclusions linking abnormal use of social networking sites and cognitive imbalance.

"System one is automatic and reactive, quickly triggered, often subconsciously, in reaction to stimulus such as a sight of or notifications from social media. System two is a reflective, reasoning system that moves more slowly, regulates cognitions, including the ones generated by system 1, and controls behaviour. The second system can help individuals control impulses and behaviours that are not in their best interest." added Saremi.

They analyzed the problematic Facebook data usage of 341 undergraduate college students from a large North American university who use the much popular social networking site- Facebook. They studied the cognitive behaviour of students across one semester and then followed up with each student the next year for tracking their academic performance. They took into accord their grade point average of both semesters, and the cumulative average. Students indulging in higher and problematic levels of Facebook use , had a strong cognitive-emotional preoccupation (system one) and a weak cognitive-behavioral control (system two),thereby creating an imbalance.

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The findings further showed alarming dependence of students on the social media with 76 percent of respondents using Facebook in class, while 40 percent reported using Facebook while driving. 63 percent reported using Facebook, while talking face-to-face with others and 65 percent reported using Facebook at work instead of working.


Study's co-author Ofir Turel said, "The clear and strong effect of problematic social media use on an academic performance was astounding. A slight increase in problematic social media use translates into significant grade loss, and this declined performance is persistent -- it remained one year after our initial study."

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The problematic use of Facebook was negatively affecting students' academic performance, more than seven percent of students' differences in their GPAs was attributed to their degree of high use of social media.

Saremi said, "Unfortunately, these problematic behaviors in using entertaining IT systems, such as social media and video games, are very common nowadays with an increasing pattern. In some cases, these behaviors have resulted in grave consequences for the users, for instance the news that came out last year regarding the problematic uses of the Pokemon GO game where players were involved in accidents or being mugged, because they were carried away by the game. Therefore, there was a need for a research model that can explain why these behaviors emerge and how they can be mitigated, which is portrayed by our work quite well."


Saremi further asserted the importance of limiting the social media use, adding that next set of steps in this field of research would include broader research by expanding the study into other contexts, such as video games, texting and other social media.

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