Brain burnout among teens due to social media addiction raises concern

Information overload is stressing the brain, say psychologists.

Social media addiction has spawned a new set of psychiatric conditions that medical practitioners are trying hard to tackle. Among these are Fomo – fear of missing out; Fobo – fear of being offline; and Nomo – No mobile. While the syndrome afflicts across all age groups, with adults spending 2.1 hours per day and teens 2.7 hours per day connected to social media, concerns are centred around 'brain burnout' in children and youth.

The Australian Psychological Society found 56 per cent of teens were heavy social media users, connecting more than five times per day, with 24 per cent being constantly connected. Sixty per cent felt brain 'burnout' from constant connectivity of social media, according to the society's Stress and Wellbeing report.

While social media addiction, unlike gaming addiction, has not been recognized as a mental disorder, psychologists are pointing to similarities.

Sleep deprivation among children, rewiring and stressing the brain by constant reading of social media content, inability to live a full life are some troubling outcomes being noticed. The information overload does not allow for any time to relax or even to process the information.

"Every time you have a spare moment, people are checking their Facebook or Snapchat, or various social networks," Perth psychologist Marny Lishman told ABC News. "There is that rising anxiety causing the urge and if you don't get to check it because you are at work, or out of mobile range, or have forgotten your phone, it is quite stressful.

"FOBO [Fear Of Being Offline] is definitely along those lines, it is a behaviour, and through repetition and coping mechanisms, you are re-wiring your brain," she said.

The addiction to devices was due to the rush generated by positive reinforcements and messages from friends. With regards to children, parents alone have the power to control by regulating Net time, the experts said. Turning off the modem at night or having a password could be ways to ensure rest at night.