TMCnet Feature
January 23, 2012

New Study Shows Internet Addicts' Brains Developing Differently

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

In the 21st century, there are plenty of people out there who will say that anytime someone spends a little too much time doing something, someone else is willing to call it an addiction. The truth of the matter is that “addiction” is a buzzword that turns some people off, while others are willing to admit that we may not truly understand what that word in fact means. Most people have accepted that addiction does exist when it comes to drugs and alcohol, but there is a definite debate when the word “addiction” is used in other circles. 

One of those circles that are still very hotly debated is when talking about the infliction that is being described as Internet addiction. The Internet has always been a rather hot topic when talking about how it affects our behavior. Several years ago, there was a study out that seemed to show that teens who spent an awful lot of time on the net actually had extra aggression. Now a study is showing that actions that are generally considered part of Internet addiction can actually change the way the human brain develops.

This new study talked to a large number of Internet users between the ages of 14 and 21 and assumed that those who were in the study might be addicts. The questions that were posed to the people in the study were crafted much like if you were trying to determine if someone was a drug addict. Questions like, “Have you lied to close friends or family about how much you use the Internet?” and “Has your use of the Internet put relationships in jeopardy?” were just a couple that treated Internet addicts like any other addict. 

Once the study determined those who they considered addicts, they also found that those people had significant changes in their brain chemistry. Those people who the study found to be addicts had lower levels in the part of the brain that controls emotional reactions and executive decision making. Despite these findings, there are still questions as to how far the addiction actually goes and how much is the makeup of the people involved. More studies will need to be conducted before anything conclusive is found.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell
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