The worrying possibilities of cell phone addiction

breathe.Are you nomophobic? The term is a product of the 21st century: No mobile phone phobia. In the age of personalized devices, researchers worry about the effects that cell phones and the like are having on our brains. A quiz developed by Caglar Yildirim, an assistant professor of human computer interaction, helps to gauge an individual’s level of addiction to their smartphones. The highest scorers – between 100 and 200 points – tend to have high levels of social anxiety, avoid face to face interaction, and may even develop depression. This disturbing trend is further highlighted by a small study at Korea University. In this study, the chemical composition of the brains of 19 teenage boys addicted to smartphones was compared to that of 19 boys without addiction using a technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The researchers found that the brains of the addicted boys contained significantly higher levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that literally inhibits neuron activity, resulting in poorer attention and control. The study also found that those who received high scores on an addiction survey also had higher scores in anxiety, depression, insomnia, and impulsivity. Thankfully, however, after nine weeks of cognitive therapy, the levels of GABA in the boys’ brains were restored to normal.

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