Did you know that brain circuits that respond if you get thumbs up in photos and the status you upload on social media, are the same brain circuits that are active when you eat your favorite food or win the lottery?
Research on the state of the brain of a teenager when opening social media
Scientists from UCLA, United States, try to observe parts of the brain that are active when receiving a reward. A total of 32 teenagers aged 13-18 years were asked to participate in a social network similar to social media that is currently popular, such as Instagram. Experiments conducted at UCLA's Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center provided 148 images on a computer screen to the teenagers, including 40 images collected by each of the teenagers. At the same time, scientists analyzed activity in their brains using a tool called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Each image displayed on a computer screen is also accompanied by the number of "likes" they think are given by other teen participants. But actually, the number of "likes" has been determined by scientists (after the procedure is finished, the new teens are told that actually scientists have determined the number of likes in the picture).
As a result, when these teens saw the images they uploaded got a lot of "likes", scientists saw various activities happening in various parts of their brain. The most active part is the part of the brain that is included in the part of the striatum, the nucleus accumbens. The Nucleus accumbens is a part of the brain that is included in the brain circuit named brain's reward circuitry. This circuit is indeed learned to be more sensitive to adults. In addition, the scientists also analyzed the activity in the part of the brain called social brain and the part of the brain associated with visual attention.
The more likes you have, the more you will like
When teens will decide whether they will give thumbs up to a picture, they are greatly influenced by the number of likes in the picture. How can scientists know this? The scientists tried to give the exact same picture to two groups of teenagers, the group of teenagers who first saw the picture with lots of likes accompanied the picture, while the other group saw the same picture, but the number of likes in the picture was less. As a result, teens will be more interested in giving likes if the image already has a lot of likes.
In real life, the influence of teenage friends is stronger in liking the uploaded image. In this study, all adolescents did not know each other. Even so, there is still activity in the brain and giving likes to images of people they don't know. Moreover, if in real life, they get likes from people who are close to them.
Do parents need to worry about social media?
What is called cyberspace facilities, including social media, there must always be advantages and disadvantages. Keep in mind that when you are a teenager are times when teens try to find their identity. Teenagers are very influenced by other people's opinions of them. Many teens are friends on social media with people they don't know at all in the real world. This is indeed a concern for parents, because it opens opportunities for adolescents to be easily influenced by people who make your child easy to make risky decisions.
On the bright side, if your teenage friends upload something positive, it will be amazing if your teen also sees something positive and is affected by it. Therefore, it is very important for parents to continue to monitor who your teenagers interact with in cyberspace, including the status, images, or videos they often see or like.
Does the effect of peer pressure also apply in cyberspace?
In the world of adolescence, peer pressure is indeed one of the effects that always appears. Apparently, the effect of peer pressure is even more powerful in cyberspace. Scientists try to give images to teenagers who are neutral (such as pictures with friends or food). In addition, scientists also gave pictures of "risky", such as cigarettes, alcohol, and teenagers with provocative clothing.
The result, not the type of image that affects the teenager will give likes or not, but the number of likes in the image that affect teens to give likes. Scientists call this a "confirmation effect", which means that teenagers feel "accepted" by their circles if they give a thumbs up to a picture that already has a lot of likes, no matter what kind of image it is.
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