Remember when your mom used to tell you that watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet would rot your brain? Well… listen to this: Researchers in China recently determined that Internet addiction disorder (IAD) in adolescence is associated with certain brain abnormalities.
Adolescence is that time between childhood and adulthood when physical, emotional, and social development is all-consuming. Combined with the immature cognitive development of adolescents, these vulnerabilities put them at high risk for affective disorders and addiction.
Using the Young Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet addiction (YDQ), consisting of eight “yes or no” questions, subjects were screened. Eighteen Internet-addicted students and 18 controls participated in the study. The researchers found that time spent on the Internet correlated with decreased white matter (neuron fiber pathways) in specific areas of the brain. Their findings were published on June 3, 2011, in the open access online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS One).
The authors of the study concluded that the structural changes seen in the prefrontal cortex of adolescents with IAD look very similar to those seen in the brains of substance abusers. Data from the China Youth Internet Association demonstrate the internet addiction rate for Chinese adolescents to be 14 percent, or 24 million.