Social Media Helps or Hurts Brainpower

Researchers suggest that social media can harm kids’ brains, and few would disagree. Either way, social networks such as Twitter are here to stay. My question is, what impact do online networks play in adult minds? Increasingly, brain gurus such as Susan Greenfield weigh in on such topics as more evidence weekly to draw from.

We know from neurogenesis that you improve or worsen your situation by beliefs moved into action, and that social media reshapes the human brain by choices people make daily. Social networking websites, it turns out, literally reshape human brains chemically and electrically, and can alter brainwaves up or down too. Is that a good thing though? 

Results are sobering. Research suggests that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo can actually decrease attention spans, foster instant gratification, and encourage self-centered communications. People reboot to live more for the moment. Check out AcademHack’s ways to use Twitter to enhance academia.

No surprise that social media is said to be changing the way we think, yet jury’s still out on the negative or positive effects to the human brain.  We’re warned of definitive ways to get social media wrong. To seems equally important to highlight the other side, would you agree?

Here are 10 surefire ways to benefit from social media, with the brain in mind.

1. Use tone to build goodwill, even among those who disagree. Tone tools opens opportunities for you with life-changing dividends. Social media tone draws success like the moon attracts tides on an ocean shore.

2. Network to enhance your busy day, not swamp it. Fuel your brain with chemical hormones for growth and learning, by planning times ahead to engage others online. Then stick to designated times, rather than flipping online whenever desire to chatter pops into mind.

3. Interact with different ages and cultures. Follow social media leaders who differ from you and learn from their diverse insights. By linking to others’ sites and subscribing to feeds, learn from and value differences.

4. Ask great questions, and then act on social media’s best answers to add zip to your day. To read or hear works less magic in the brain than to rewire for enthusiasm through genuine, 2-footed questions.

5. Put feet to your own beliefs in social media settings, yet change and grow even deeply held assumptions, when others hold better ethics up to the rainbow. Know the difference, by the results received.

6. Run from cynics or bullies, in favor of proposing solutions to negative issues raised online. The opposite of abuse from others or toxic settings online, is to take deliberate steps toward peaceful solutions, that work wonders for intelligence.

7. Link to high performance minds in order to help build communities with those who lead change for improvements. Facilitate innovative minds online. Results can lead you to a fix for a broken system, that traps hebbian thinkers.

8. Engage opposing views in ways that show strengths from alternative perspectives. Step out of comfort zones often to check out views at unusual online sites. Embrace even change that comes from unexpected place and online remedies can lead to visible improvements.

9. Learn new technologies that improve networking. Rarely is it easy to learn new skills but online is the perfect place to risk benefits new learning offers. Each time you step up to another plate to learn, you stretch and exercise your brain’s working memory for more of the same.

10. Send growth zingers to peers by the way you draw from serotonin to affirm others’ ideas and share a your own, by way of genuine encouragement.

Overall use smart skills to create online communities that win and grow together. Skeptics and naysayers will always be with you, yet one day offers new chances to avoid negative effects of social media, and  join brilliant minds who are changing our world through social media.


  1. Lee Kolbert says:

    Hi Ellen,
    Thanks for this post. It’s of great interest to me, particularly the research you cite in your 3rd paragraph. Can you share the specifics of that research?


    Lee Kolberts last blog post..Web 2.0: What’s It Good For?

  2. eweber says:

    Thanks for stopping by Lee. The research you are looking for is from neuroscientist Susan Greenfirld, and you’d enjoy an article at

    We know that what we do reshapes our brains – which should make us more aware of choices we make:-)

  3. Judith says:

    Thank you for this article. I love your list of ways to make social media in favor of positive brain change. I employ several of them already, particularly, as a student. #7 was the reason I linked to you.

    I also have two children, 13 and 16, who enjoy social media and actually came into it after me, using my experiences as their springboard.

    I believe truly that there has to be a combination of skills taught to our children. I frequently move back and forth between Twitter shorthand and my school assignments written in APA style.

    Judiths last blog post..Sleep Issues in Children

  4. eweber says:

    Thanks for dropping by Judith, and thanks for your kind words. I can sure identify with the crossover between Twitter and APA — and it makes me wonder. Hey – is there no middle ground here:-) Good luck with your studies!

  5. […] add colors and textures to any topic. All because of tone tools online that open opportunities or online tones that push one size only […]

  6. […] or  intimidation sparks toxic silence in public and then downgrades into venting in private. Even social media can help or hurt tone. Poor tone slips into communication in a flash, while brain based approaches calls for time and […]

  7. Tom Fiddelke says:

    Nice blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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