You could be. Automatic and uncontrolled use of technologies such as social media in a manner resembling the addictive use of substances is increasingly recognized as a problem for millions of Americans, including many young adults. Mihaylo ISDS Professor Ofir Turel discusses the roots of such behaviors from a neuroscience perspective.
Social networks such as Facebook have assisted individuals and enterprises in building and enriching relationships locally and globally. Yet these tools have also been associated with behavior similar to that observed with drug addicts for some users. Research studies from the United States and other developed countries suggest that between 0.7% and 11% of the population demonstrate technology addiction with higher figures likely among adolescents and young adults. Many more individuals present less severe addiction-like symptoms.
What are the neurological roots of these technology addictions? Are they similar to the issues observed in traditional addictions, such as substance abuse and gambling?
Mihaylo ISDS Professor Ofir Turel and a team from the University of Southern California (USC) led by Antoine Bechara are among the first to examine Facebook addiction from a neurological perspective in a coauthored study of the neural activities of 20 users ages 18 to 23. Two key brain systems typically involved in addictions – the impulsive amygdala-striatal system and the inhibitory prefrontal cortex brain system – were examined.