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Neurosurgeon Dr. Ian Armstrong joins The Doctors to discuss the physiological changes that social media is causing, particularly on the teenage brain.
Dr. Armstrong explains that smartphones are a stimulant. Using them releases the feel-good chemical dopamine, which is correlated with the pleasure and reward center. It stimulates it in the same manner as other addictions like gambling and pornography do. The response in the brain looks similar to that of someone using drugs like cocaine!
Dr. Armstrong shares 3 ways to protect kids from addictive behavior:
1. Put limitations on phone time.
2. Avoid smartphone or screen time for up to two hours before bedtime. The blue light in phones can actually interfere with melatonin and the sleep cycle.
3. Create phone-free zones. Dinner time, study time, and family time are all good times you could remove their smartphones. The attention span of a young child is now only about 5 minutes so they need to have periods without the constant bombardment of stimulation.
Dr. Armstrong adds that the teenage brain has been rewired for adulthood and if it’s only stimulated in one manner the brain will prune and not develop other pathways. The addiction to smartphones is taking away from the well-rounded education needed to navigate life.
Dr. Travis encourages parents to talk with their kids about the impact of social media and cell phones so that they have awareness. Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon adds that parents need to lead by example with their own smartphone habits.