With the arrival of summer vacation, the excessive use of smartphones and the Internet by teenagers has once again become one of the problems that plague many families.
The Internet provides people with a vast ocean of information, but for teenagers whose self-control is not strong enough and their brains are still developing, the dangers of Internet addiction should be vigilant.
Some primary and secondary school teachers found that after returning to school after home distance teaching, there were students in the class with significantly decreased attention, and these students failed to control the time they use smartphones during home learning.
When it comes to addiction to online games, parents have always been facing the enemy. In the past two years, with the increase in the user coverage of short video platforms, some parents have found that after watching videos for a long time, their children can no longer concentrate on reading books, doing homework, or even doing homework. Can’t sit still and watch a 30-minute cartoon episode.
Is there an exact link between long-term video viewing and intellectual education? This problem has been concerned by researchers in many fields such as psychology, brain science and education. A number of studies have shown that watching short videos for a long time is likely to affect brain health, and short video addiction is harmful to young people.
After swiping for another ten minutes, put down the phone to sleep, but as a result, I have been immersed in short videos and unable to extricate myself, and it is difficult to fall asleep until the early morning. This is a common behavior of many short video platform users. Short videos are addictive, time-consuming, and have long been criticized.
Liu Qinxue, an associate professor at the School of Psychology at Central China Normal University, believes that the reason why short videos are so addictive stems from their infinite scrolling properties: “The endless information makes people overwhelmed, this is actually a ‘bottomless bowl’ experiment based on psychology .” The
so-called “bottomless bowl” experiment, that is, when people are eating, they will continue to add food and vegetables to it without noticing it, and people will eat it uncontrollably.
”Inspired by this, Aza Raskin, a software product designer in Silicon Valley, invented infinite scrolling for mobile phone product design, so as to continuously capture users’ attention. At the same time, the video is very short, requiring the producer to put everything in a short period of time. The happiness that can be stimulated is maximized. The infinite scrolling function of watching short videos for a long time will make people’s threshold of happiness become higher and higher.” Liu Qinxue said.
According to current academic research, the addictive mechanisms of short videos are multiple.
For example: short videos bring instant feedback, which makes people feel refreshed immediately; the platform adopts precise push to make people watch more and more; swiping videos have the content characteristics of “opening the blind box”, giving people stronger stimulation; full screen , Autoplay enhances the immersive experience, and users lose their sense of time while watching.
In addition, from the perspective of engineering psychology, the 15-second short video is just the length of time for people to concentrate the most easily, and at the same time, it can make people feel a moment of imprint and unfinished feeling.
Excessive addiction to short videos, its “devil side” is not only reflected in the content, but also in its attributes, which may have adverse effects on young people’s knowledge structure, thinking ability, formation of three views, personal safety, and even brain development.
”Browsing short videos has become a conditioned reflex and an instinctive behavior of muscle memory for many users. After the algorithm is adjusted by machine learning, it can approach the brain’s desire curve infinitely, which is easy to make people deeply addicted.” South China University of Technology Public Zhang Jun, a part-time research assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies, believes that short video-related algorithms have designed a near-perfect addiction mechanism for human behavior.
Zhang Jun believes that, relative to the vigilance of online game addiction, parents are generally aware of the dangers of short video addiction. He said that because short videos have penetrated people of all ages, parents also regard short videos as common, and believe that the content and form of short videos themselves do not have much impact on children, and only need to be appropriately limited in terms of length and occasion. That’s it.
However, according to the special research project on preventing teenagers from being addicted to the Internet, which was funded by the China Internet Development Foundation and carried out by the China Disaster Prevention Association, excessive addiction to short videos is not only reflected in the content, but also in the attributes. , thinking ability, the formation of three views, personal safety, and even brain development may have adverse effects.
Excessive addiction affects intellectual development
How does short video addiction affect adolescent brain development?
Studies have shown that watching short, fast-paced videos can make it difficult for children to persevere when faced with activities that do not provide immediate and sustained satisfaction.
Compared with short videos that continuously give rewarding stimulation to the brain, learning tasks such as reading books and homework, as well as long videos such as documentaries and movies, all have the characteristics of slower rhythm and less rewarding.
To deal with these long-term focused tasks, people must mobilize directed attention, that is, the ability to suppress distraction, maintain focus, and appropriately shift attention. This function is responsible for decision-making and impulse control in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for .
The more mature the prefrontal cortex develops, the more informed choices will be made. Since the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until age 25, maintaining focus and self-control can be difficult for teens. Psychological research suggests that addictive and addictive behaviors may lead to degeneration of prefrontal lobe function.
During addiction and addiction, the brain experiences desensitization and sensitization. In the desensitization stage, dopamine will be produced sharply under the stimulus, and then drop sharply after the stimulus is satisfied; in the sensitization stage, people will be more sensitive to addictive substances, but will be less interested in other things; “stimulation-desensitization” The process of “sensitization-sensitization” is repeated, and eventually the function of the prefrontal lobe is impaired.
Tao Ran, director of the Center for Addiction Medicine, Beijing Military General Hospital, has conducted a lot of research on Internet addiction among adolescents. Through MRI scans of the prefrontal lobes of children and adolescents, it can be found that when children engage in interpersonal communication and other complex activities, the entire prefrontal lobe of the brain is in the Excited state, while playing games and watching short videos is only a local area of excitement, and the oxygen consumption of the prefrontal lobe will be lower.
The brains of children and adolescents are in a period of rapid development. In order to adapt to the environment, long-term viewing of short videos will cause functional changes in the brain and profoundly affect the reward system. Liu Qinxue believes that if a child watches short videos for a long time and parents do not monitor it, the child will lose the ability to feel other aspects.
Parents, as the gatekeepers of children’s Internet use, must realize that “how to meet children’s inner needs” is the key to the problem, and they need to embrace the Internet age, rather than blindly controlling and preventing them.
Even for adult college students, many people find it difficult to resist the influence of short videos. According to an article published in the journal Neuroimaging in 2021 by the Zhejiang University research team, by conducting functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments on 30 healthy students who used Douyin for a long time, the research team found that those who watched personalized short videos , the areas involved in addiction are highly activated and it is difficult to control when to stop watching.
The research group of the special research group on preventing adolescents’ internet addiction has also discovered other hidden dangers caused by addicting short videos to the intellectual development of adolescents. For example: the information cocoon room caused by algorithm recommendation will lead to one-sided and low-quality knowledge structure of young people; the short and smooth nature of short videos will affect the depth of young people’s thinking, and even hinder their correct understanding of the complexity of the real world; Entertainment content may also affect the formation of young people’s worldviews and values.
In addition, some child psychology researchers believe that if children use electronic screens for too long, it will reduce the time they spend interacting with people, resulting in reduced opportunities for emotional interaction, and weakened emotional perception and adjustment capabilities. Excessive use of mobile phones can also affect children’s sleep and is not conducive to brain development.
Parents should be aware of intervention
According to the 49th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status” released by the China Internet Network Information Center in March 2022, the Internet penetration rate of minors in my country’s urban areas is 95.0%, and that in rural areas is 94.7%.
Preventing teenagers from being addicted to smartphones and the Internet has become one of the focuses of high attention from all walks of life.
At present, major short video platforms have set up anti-addiction mechanisms for teenagers to limit the viewing time of minors. “Watching the video for too long, pay attention to take a proper rest”, or insert a “warm reminder” video message between the video playback, this is the general practice of most short video platforms for teenagers to prevent addiction.
Recently, the Internet Literacy Research Center for Minors, School of Journalism and Communication, Beijing Normal University, and the Internet Society of China jointly released the “Report on the Protection and Development of Minors on Internet Platforms (2022)”. The score of adult protection is relatively low, and the dimensions of anti-addiction, bad information filtering, privacy and personal information protection are still not up to the standard.
Many researchers believe that it is difficult to fundamentally solve the problem of young people’s short video addiction by only technical means. As content generated by new technology, short videos will not cause harm if they can be watched moderately and reasonably. Parents need to be vigilant about whether their children are overly addicted and addicted.
”From a psychological point of view, rationalized restrictions have no psychological harm to children, and it is a quantitative time process from overuse to addiction.” Tao Ran said.
Tao Ran said that if children use the Internet excessively for 2-3 hours a day, it will have some impact on academic performance and emotional changes, but social functions have not been significantly damaged, and some psychological interventions can be done without excessive treatment. However, if you use it for more than 4 hours a day and become dependent on the Internet, you will experience withdrawal symptoms and impaired social function when you leave the Internet, which is a sign of addiction.
Bian Yufang, executive director of the Chinese Family Education Society and secretary-general of the Family Education Guidance Committee of the Ministry of Education, believes that parents, as the gatekeepers of children’s Internet use, must realize that “how to meet children’s inner needs” is the key to the problem, and they need to embrace the Internet era , rather than blindly controlling and preventing blocking. With the help of psychological research results, parents should play a supervisory role, let children realize that the Internet is only a tool, and improve their attitudes and skills towards the Internet, and discuss and use the Internet with their children.
”As children grow older, parents’ one-way control over their children may lead to resistance, and the so-called control becomes resistance behavior on both sides.” Liu Qinxue believes that parents should cultivate children’s healthy Internet habits under proper monitoring. and intervene in a timely manner at critical moments.
Liu Qinxue suggested: First, parents can help children stimulate the inner drive of self-management, pay attention to communication and negotiation; second, pay attention to the method of control, can set time and space rules at home to help children form frameworks and rules in advance; third , and avoid using your phone as a reward.
Parents can pay attention to their children’s usage patterns of smartphones. If it is instrumental use, such as taking taxis, navigating, paying, checking learning materials, etc., even if it is used for a long time, it is generally not addictive, but if it is emotional use, such as when the child is unhappy, he wants to play with mobile phones, swipe Short videos require parents to pay more attention.