A new study published in the science journal ‘Addictive Behaviours’ outlines how smartphone addiction has a direct impact on the human brain.
The study is based on a review of 48 people – 22 which have been diagnosed with ‘smartphone addiction’ (SPA) and a control group of 26 people.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate gray matter volume (GMV) and intrinsic neural activity between the two groups.
Compared to the control group, the individuals with smartphone addiction showed lower GMV in the left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex.
Lower intrinsic activity in the group with smartphone addiction was also found in the right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This was reflected by both a decrease in ACC volume and activity.
Given their widespread use and increasing popularity, the present study questions the harmlessness of smartphones, at least in individuals that may be at increased risk for developing smartphone-related addictive behaviours, the researchers said.
The latest Global Digital Yearbook for 2019 shows that South Africans spend the 6th longest time online, connected for an average of 8 hours and 25 minutes each day, on any device.
This is far higher than the global average of 6 hours and 41 minutes – and not that far below the biggest internet addicts, the Philippines, who spend over 10 hours a day on average online.
Connecting via computers, South Africans are the world’s second-biggest internet addicts, spending almost 5 hours a day, on average, glued to our screens.
South Africans also spend more time using social media platforms than the global average, with the report recording the average time spent at 2 hours and 48 minutes each day.
The average social media user, globally, spends 2 hours and 16 minutes on social platforms each day – with extreme users (Philippines) spending over 4 hours.
South Africans have eight social media accounts on average.