Teens addicted to their cellphones were found to be more depressed in a study conducted by Korea University. Kamil Macniak Tribune
Teens addicted to their cellphones were found to be more depressed in a study conducted by Korea University. Kamil Macniak Tribune

Health & Fitness

Cellphone addiction could affect your brain, study says

By Kaitlyn Alanis

kalanis@wichitaeagle.com

December 01, 2017 10:18 AM

UPDATED December 01, 2017 10:49 AM

We all know those people who cannot seem to pull their eyes away from their phone.

In fact, nearly half of Americans say they they could not live without their cellphones, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Great dinner? Snap a photo. New place? Check in on Facebook. Bored? Text a friend.

And while there are many reasons people need their cellphones at all times of the day, a new study might make you think twice about being a little too reliant of your cellphone.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

A study published Thursday in Science Daily has revealed that smartphone- and internet-addicted teenagers have significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsiveness.

A research team led by Hyung Suk Seo, professor of neuroradiology at Korea University, used a scanning technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate the brains of 19 teenagers diagnosed with smartphone or internet addiction.

The addicted teenagers were found to have an imbalance in their brain chemistry, compared to a control group of those not addicted to phones or the internet.

The research shows that smartphone- and internet-addicted youth have a higher ratio of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits or slows down brain signals.

Having too much GABA, the study says, can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness and anxiety.

At what age should a child be given a smartphone?

Children at Snack Shack in Kansas City, Kan., talk about a good age to get a smartphone. In recent weeks hundreds of families across the Kansas City area have been discussing "Wait Until 8th,” a campaign asking parents to pledge they'll not provide smartphones until their children reach 8th grade.

Allison Long and Rick Montgomery along@kcstar.com

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-269-6708, @kaitlynalanis