Technology Overuse: Are We at Risk of Digital Dementia?

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Technology Overuse: Are We at Risk of Digital Dementia?

The brain is very resilient and it can be taught as long as you know how to do it properly / Photo by piksel via 123RF


Before the age of smartphones, tablets, and the internet, we used to memorize phone numbers. If you need something from a friend, you pick the phone up and dial a number. We used to learn many things before we had smartphones. You might still even remember your childhood home telephone number. Smartphones are now doing the things that we used to do to the extent that they have replaced what our brains do. 


What is Digital Dementia?

Digital dementia is a term coined by Mandred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist, back in 2012. This term talks about how technology is being abused and overused that results in a decline in cognitive ability—a similar situation to someone who has suffered a head injury or mental illness. Memorizing phone numbers and other things keep the brain sharp. However, the smartphone age has caused deterioration in cerebral performance like short-term memory. 

We live in a touchscreen era and have lesser interactions with other people. There are still some things that cannot compare and cannot replace talking to a person face-to-face and making a connection. In Spitzer's book “Digital Dementia,” he said that every time you use a computer, you outsource your mental activity, and this means that the more time you spend in front of a screen, your social skills become lesser and lesser. 


How Does Digital Dementia Happen?

When people use their smartphone, only the left side of the brain is used. That part of the brain is the one that prefers hard facts. The right side is the creative and imaginative part of the brain and the one associated with emotions and intuition. 

Technology today does most of the thinking for us. Relying too much on smartphones can make the right brain regress or fail to develop further. You might sometimes feel that you are becoming more and more forgetful despite your young age. This may be due to the fact that you are becoming more and more reliant on your smartphone or other electronic gadgets. Symptoms of right brain regression include depression, memory problems, and short attention span. 


How to Deal with Digital Dementia

Fortunately, digital dementia does not have to become permanent. The brain is very resilient and it can be taught as long as you know how to do it properly. The main idea is to keep the mind active as soon as you can. For example, you can read a book, exercise regularly, learn a new language, call instead of texting, and try to play an instrument. 

The mind requires activity so that it will remain strong. Just like muscles when not in use, it can atrophy. Exercising the brain regularly will make it stronger. If you continue using it, it will remain sharp, just like a knife that is honed regularly. If you can do something, try to do it without using your smartphone. 

Getting away from the smartphone and the internet once in a while can be a healthy practice / Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay


There is Brilliance in Boredom

When we get bored, we turn to our phones. If you want to keep your mind sharp, try to stay away from smartphones and tablets and the internet in general. 

Boredom is not at all a waste of time. When we get bored, a network in the brain gets activated. While we think we are doing mundane things, the brain is actually really busy. 

Smartphones are destroying our social skills and creativity. Getting away from the smartphone and the internet once in a while can be a healthy practice. Sometimes, brilliant ideas are even born out of boredom. Who knows, your idea might just be the next big thing. 


Digital Dementia Among Kids

Parents are encouraged to balance screen time and traditional activities for kids. Since kids today are born in the touchscreen and internet era, they are not used to not doing things that aren't using gadgets. When kids throw tantrums, parents turn to gadgets to calm them down. However, there are other activities that can be done, such as sports. Below are some activities that kids can do so that digital dementia can be avoided. 


-Exercise is still the best. It has a significant impact on the brain, and there are numerous benefits that physical activities can do to the mind. 

-Letting kids have proper nutrition can boost brain activity. Healthy foods can nourish the brain. 

-When cellphones haven’t been invented yet, we used to do mental math for every calculation. Letting kids solve simple math problems without letting them use the smartphone can help develop their brain. 

-It is important to restrict screen time and monitor the apps that kids use. Allow kids to go out and play with their friends instead of letting them become hooked on gadgets. Enroll them in other activities and help them choose a hobby.

By having something interesting to do other than playing on tablets and smartphones, kids can develop their brain at the same time.