The effects of digital addiction on brain function and structure of children and adolescents: A scoping review

Keya DING, Yining SHEN, Qianming LIU, Hui LI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

The escalating prevalence of studies investigating digital addiction (DA) and its detrimental impact on the human brain’s structure and functionality has been noticeable in recent years. Yet, an overwhelming majority of these reviews have been predominantly geared towards samples comprising college students or adults and have only inspected a single variant of DA, such as internet gaming disorder, internet addiction disorder, problematic smartphone use, tablet overuse, and so forth. Reviews focusing on young children and adolescents (ages 0–18), or those which amalgamate various types of DA, are decidedly scarce. Given this context, summarizing the effects of DA on brain structure and functionality during the vital developmental stage (0–18 years) is of immense significance. A scoping review, complying with the PRISMA extension for such reviews, was conducted to amalgamate findings from 28 studies spanning a decade (2013–2023) and to examine the influence of assorted forms of DA on the brains of children and adolescents (0–18 years). The synthesized evidence indicated two primary results: (1) DA exerts harmful effects on the structure and functionality of the brains of children and adolescents, and (2) the prefrontal lobe is the region most consistently reported as impacted across all research. Furthermore, this review discerned a notable void of studies investigating the neural indices of digital addiction, along with a shortage of studies focusing on young children (0–6 years old) and longitudinal evidence. This research could provide the necessary theoretical basis for the thwarting and intervention of digital addiction, a measure indispensable for ensuring healthy brain development in children and adolescents. Copyright © 2023 by the authors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Citation

Ding, K., Shen, Y., Liu, Q., & Li, H. (2024). The effects of digital addiction on brain function and structure of children and adolescents: A scoping review. Healthcare (Switzerland), 12(1), Article 15. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12010015

Keywords

  • Digital addiction
  • Adolescents
  • Neuroimaging
  • Brain structure
  • Brain function

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