Of the 19 smartphone- and Internet-addicted teens, 12 also received cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) over 9 weeks as part of the study. The CBT type that they received was adapted from a program targeting gaming addiction.”
The researchers also began administering tests, focusing on the extent to which the participants’ addictions were impacting their productivity, social lives, and daily activities. High scores on the test correlate with severe smartphone and/or internet addictions.
The results of the study came in with shocking results:
Participants with a more severe Internet and smartphone addiction were also found to have problems with depression and anxiety, as well as sleeplessness and impulsive behavior.
“The addicted teens underwent MRS both before and after CBT, while the control group was only examined using MRS once. The researchers were interested in measuring levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate-glutamine (Glx) in the brain.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that interacts with neural synapses, slowing down signaling between brain cells. GABA balances out the effect of Glx, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter that speeds up electric signaling in the brain.
Imbalances in GABA and Glx levels have previously been found to play a role in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Following the MRS exams, the team found that addicted participants, in comparison with the healthy control group, had a higher ratio of GABA to Glx before CBT in the anterior cingulate cortex area of the brain, which is implicated in cognition and the regulation of emotions.
Chemical balance, however, was largely restored in the brain following CBT interventions.”
According to Dr. Seo, head researcher of the study, there is a significant link between a teenager’s emotional regulation & cognitive ability and the intensity of their addiction to smartphones & the internet.
There is also a link between these factors and the amount of anxiety and depression the teenager is feeling.
These findings should help us wake up to the drastic effects that can come from being on our phones too much. It’s important to moderate our time on the internet and on our phones to help increase emotional regulation and reduce anxiety and depression.