Does excessive screen usage really damage the brain?


Senior member
May 15, 2014
Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain

Gray matter atrophy: Multiple studies have shown atrophy (shrinkage or loss of tissue volume) in gray matter areas (where “processing” occurs) in internet/gaming addiction (Zhou 2011, Yuan 2011, Weng 2013,and Weng 2012). Areas affected included the important frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as planning, planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control (“getting stuff done”). Volume loss was also seen in the striatum, which is involved in reward pathways and the suppression of socially unacceptable impulses. A finding of particular concern was damage to an area known is the insula, which is involved in our capacity to develop empathy and compassion for others and our ability to integrate physical signals with emotion. Aside from the obvious link to violent behavior, these skills dictate the depth and quality of personal relationships.
Compromised white matter integrity: Research has also demonstrated loss of integrity to the brain’s white matter (Lin 2012, Yuan 2011, Hong 2013 and Weng 2013). “Spotty” white matter translates into loss of communication within the brain, including connections to and from various lobes of the same hemisphere, links between the right and left hemispheres, and paths between higher (cognitive) and lower (emotional and survival) brain centers. White matter also connects networks from the brain to the body and vice versa. Interrupted connections may slow down signals, “short-circuit” them, or cause them to be erratic (“misfire”).
Reduced cortical thickness: Hong and colleagues found reduced cortical (the outermost part of the brain) thickness in internet-addicted teen boys (Hong 2013), and Yuan et al found reduced cortical thickness in the frontal lobe of online gaming addicts (late adolescent males and females) correlated with impairment of a cognitive task (Yuan 2013).
Impaired cognitive functioning: Imaging studies have found less efficient information processing and reduced impulse inhibition (Dong & Devito 2013), increased sensitivity to rewards and insensitivity to loss (Dong & Devito 2013), and abnormal spontaneous brain activity associated with poor task performance (Yuan 2011).
Cravings and impaired dopamine function: Research on video games have shown dopamine (implicated in reward processing and addiction) is released during gaming (Koepp 1998 and Kuhn 2011) and that craving or urges for gaming produces brain changes that are similar to drug cravings (Ko 2009, Han 2011). Other findings in internet addiction include reduced numbers of dopamine receptors and transporters (Kim 2011 and Hou 2012).
I might be susceptible though because I am on the spectrum, and I started early in childhood


Diamond Member
Nov 21, 2005
TV's been around for decades. Too much of anything can be bad for an individual if not monitored or approached with feedback metrics, generally speaking.

Physiology is equally important, it's healthy to get up and move around every 50 minutes.
Exercise and nutrition is another part of the equation. Imagine years of minimal physical activity and terrible diets, that would probably have detrimental implications on its own regardless of screen viewing time - apparent with other correlated/intersecting studies openly available on the mainstream Internet.

Another thing to consider are/were all the job related fields that requires 40-60 hours of screen viewing time in the past decades. Brain health can be greatly affected in other ways depending on lifestyle.

Ways to reduce residual damage and protect the brain will be up to the individual and their performance needs which may include looking away from the monitor at X amount of time, spending a day or two, without looking at any screens, blue light filter technologies, timed approach to hobbies/work balance that involve screen viewing time.


Nov 18, 2005
Much of that seems to be discussing gaming addiction.

Screen time alone shouldn't have much of an effect on physiology/neurology save for disruptions to the circadian rhythm (which when it consistently impacts sleep quality that will then cause secondary effects that build up).

But if that screen time, if served alongside an addiction to whatever is on the screen or in general an addictive behavior, then that's going to have negative impacts. The screen is largely just secondary though, just the vehicle serving the addiction. Swap it with slot machines, needles, sexual stimulation, etc and the behavioral and then physiological results will largely be the same.
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Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
I remember reading on this before and I think I'm guilty of it myself. It's a hard habit to break. It's not even gaming but just doing things on the computer like scrolling through Reddit or other social media and switching between forums etc and just doing the rounds. If I don't force myself to do something constructive I can spend hours doing this without even realizing till it's end of day then I realize I accomplished absolutely nothing. It's a terrible thing. Has to do with wanting instant gratification. These things give you that but it does not last long.

Meanwhile if you work harder at doing something constructive it requires more work, but the gratification is delayed, and last's longer. For example, building something, fixing something, etc.

Speaking of which, I should be putting another coat of plaster on a drywall patch job right now. :p


Platinum Member
Jul 27, 2004
It's not the screen, but the content that is the problem.... as proof I present the mindless tweets of Trump to his Trumpanzee followers.


No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
If you look around this seems like there's a lot of truth to it...


No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
the brain is not a muscle, but you can think of it like one. Screen content is fixed, and since you are getting fixed audio, visual for the majority of it, your brain isn't working as hard to make sense of things (why reading is always better: you are creating your own visual world when you read a novel), so it's learning less, less active...atrophy, as mentioned.

While I agree that any type of wholly passive entertainment, and certainly video games included are terrible for you overall, I tend to think that video games probably aren't as bad for you as TV, if one were to establish a "rate of depreciation" for neural senescence based on "human entertainment hours" ....or whatever. Video games definitely require more input, more stimulus, far more thinking than scripted video content (so, I would consider them mildly passive, if at all). ....but beyond a simple rate calculation, I'd think that video games still might come out as worse--a bit more addictive, so more hours = more overall depreciation, faster vision-based effects (which you would see tied to all of this, also including fatigue, again related to brain health).


Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
I spend lots time watching screns and my brains ain't got no damn trophies for it so what is this I don't think its true about trophy's the brain fels the same size can still think good. Don't worry me none.


Junior Member
Jan 12, 2020
Hello everyone, I'm new to this community hope you all are great! I'm 28 years old, and I'm from Sweden, a former hardcore gamer who played way to much for my own best for many years. Nowadays I'm in control. it's not easy but it's worth it. So if you're lurking the web for tips, feel free to ask me questions here or in pm. Best regards


No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
We startin a Gamer Cult? Do I have to sell Flowers? I don't want to sell Flowers.