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JAMA Network: Association of Habitual Checking Behaviors on Social Media With Longitudinal Functional Brain Development

Maria T. Maza, Kara A. Fox, and Seh-Joo Kwon

Jan 23, 2023

Social media platforms provide adolescents with unprecedented opportunities for social interactions during a critical developmental period when the brain is especially sensitive to social feedback.

Key Points

Question  Is adolescents’ frequency of checking behaviors on 3 social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) associated with longitudinal changes in functional brain development across adolescence.

Findings  In this cohort study of 169 sixth- and seventh-grade students, participants who engaged in habitual checking behaviors showed a distinct neurodevelopmental trajectory within regions of the brain comprising the affective salience, motivational, and cognitive control networks in response to anticipating social rewards and punishments compared with those who engaged in nonhabitual checking behaviors.

Meaning  These results suggest that habitual checking of social media in early adolescence may be longitudinally associated with changes in neural sensitivity to anticipation of social rewards and punishments, which could have implications for psychological adjustment.


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