Phone addiction can mess up brain chemistry

The appeal cited several studies which showed frequent smartphone use among children can cause “unintentional negative consequences.”

One study from the Center on Media and Child Health and the University of Alberta found that 75 percent of teachers observed a reduction in students’ ability to focus in the past three to five years since smartphones became prevalent.

The investors also cite the research of professor Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen, who discovered that teenagers who spend five hours a day on electronic devices are 71 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, compared to those who spend less than one hour.

Twenge’s research led her to find the “sudden, large changes” in suicide rates among teenagers from 2010 to 2015 were linked to an increase in smartphone usage. She did advised everyone to limit their screen time to two hours a day.

The team from Korea University, in Seoul, took 3D images of participants’ brains using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), to measure their brain chemical composition. MRS is a non-invasive diagnostic test often used to detect the presence of tumors. It works by comparing the chemical composition of normal brain tissue with abnormal brain tissue.

The scientists say further research is needed to understand the clinical implications of their findings but add that high levels of Gaba in the brain could be related to “functional loss’ in certain areas of the brain.

A recent study found 46 percent of Americans stay they could not live without their smartphone, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Scientists are increasingly looking at disruptions in the glutamate/Gaba-glutamine cycle because of a variety of neurological disorders and conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and autism.

“The preponderance of the evidence points in the direction of more screen time leading to depression and mental health issues,” Twenge said in an interview with the Washington Times in November. “Doing nothing risks these mental health issues continuing to be at these historically very high levels. The research suggests we shouldn’t be telling people to give up their phones entirely; it’s limiting the amount of screen time.”

The letter also cited other a study that found several hours of smartphones use a day can lead to sleep deprivation, and another study that found children who spent five days away from their smartphones at an outdoor camp did “substantially” better on an empathy test than a control group of their peers.

On average, children receive their first smartphone at the age of 10, according to a study from Influence Central. Once they have their phones, teens average nearly seven hours of screen media use a day, according to a 2015 study from the Common Sense Census.

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