Phone use is now a huge part of society (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of modern life and so, naturally, the discussion has become about whether or not it’s all a bit much for us.

The debate has been raging for awhile now about our device addiction – fuelled by unlimited scrolling and endless notification. And a new study has suggested that smartphone addiction physically changes the shape of a human brain in a similar way to drug addiction.

Published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, a team of researchers from Germany’s Heidelberg University used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the brains of people with smartphone addiction (SPA).

‘Compared to controls, individuals with SPA showed lower GMV in left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex,’ they explained.

What does that mean? In a nutshell: decreased ability in a region of the brain known as the insula, which some suggest deals with our self-awareness.

How much ability is decreased or what the long-term effects are aren’t clear at this stage but further studies will likely uncover more.

Either way, the authors are holding it up as the first evidence of physical alterations to the brain as a result of our smartphone usage.

MRI scans of the brain gave us a picture of smartphone addiction (Horvath et al 2020/Addictive Behaviors)

‘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 behaviors,’ the authors wrote.

A damning report recently found most children (53 per cent) own a mobile phone by the age of seven years old.

The report, which was based on a survey of 2,167 five to 16-year-olds in the UK, goes on to say that by age 11, nine in 10 children have their own device.

Phone ownership is now ‘almost universal’ once children are in secondary school, it revealed.

It also found 57 per cent of children sleep with their phone by their bed and almost two in five (39 per cent) youngsters say they could not live without their phone.

Researchers said the findings show the extent to which phones can ‘dominate children’s lives’.

How often do you check your phone? (Getty Images/Cultura RF)

The ubiquity of phone use in society is a cause for concern as the physiological and health implications remain poorly understood, experts of the latest research warn.

A damning report recently found most children (53 per cent) own a mobile phone by the age of seven years old.

The report, which was based on a survey of 2,167 five to 16-year-olds in the UK, goes on to say that by age 11, nine in 10 children have their own device.

Phone ownership is now ‘almost universal’ once children are in secondary school, it revealed.

It also found 57 per cent of children sleep with their phone by their bed and almost two in five (39 per cent) youngsters say they could not live without their phone.

Researchers said the findings show the extent to which phones can ‘dominate children’s lives’.

The ubiquity of phone use in society is a cause for concern as the physiological and health implications remain poorly understood, experts of the latest research warn.





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