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Social Media and the Brain

“Keeping in touch is no longer about face to face, but instead screen to screen, highlighted by the fact that more than 1 billion people are using Facebook every day” (East, 2016).

In a study by UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center, it was found that receiving likes on social media activates the brain’s reward center. This is especially important to consider when monitoring the social media use of teens, but is important for adults as well.

Consider this: if our brains are stimulated by the simple action of clicking a button we may look to social media to satisfy our desire to feel valued and accepted. On an even simpler level, we may be satisfying our desire to experience the social reward which feeds our brain.

In short, during this virtual time of quarantining and sheltering in place, it is immensely important to create opportunities to experience activity in our brain’s reward center. While social media is a great way to connect and engage with others, we should create additional opportunities to get the natural pleasure of peer approval. This winter, we suggest adults and teens move from social media to social connection by engaging Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram friends in person-to-person telephonic or virtual activities. Here are few activities we suggest:

  • Mail a postcard or letter to a friend

  • Call distant family members to catch up

  • Schedule a virtual lunch date

  • Engage in or host a virtual activity for

    • paint & sip

    • play video or board games

    • read/dialogue about a book

    • movie night

    • window shop together

    • group workout

    • cooking class

  • Organize a virtual hang out (no agenda; just laugh and talk)

  • Set calendar reminders to check on friends and family

Whatever you do, we encourage you to stay safe and create opportunities to connect with others.


East, S. (2016) Teens: This is how social media affects your brain. CNN


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