Digital Dimentia

There’s been a lot of study and thought into prolonged screen times with youngsters, including mobile phones, tablets, video games and social media. Many parents have their own thoughts on the sort of behavior that develops with too much screen time, not enough exercise and too few breaks. Some parents ban mobile devices from the bedroom yet schools encourage them for learning. So what are the facts and are there any dangers from too much time on digital devices?

What is Digital Dementia?

An eye-opening study in Seoul, Korea – where more people are connected to digital devices (over 67%) than anywhere in the world –  as well as U.S. study conducted at UCLA has revealed some alarming information about the developing brains of young people.  They’re spending upwards of 7 hours a day attached to their iPads, smartphones, computers and gaming consoles. And the effects to their brains are proving to be very damaging.

“Digital Dementia”, a term coined by top German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer in his 2012 book of the same name, is a term used to describe how overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in a way that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.

Short term memory problems

Individuals who rely heavily on technology may suffer deterioration in cerebral performance such as short term memory dysfunction. When did you last have to try to remember a phone number? You don’t need to anymore when you can just look it up? Simply we have devices that can do these jobs for us, so why bother? It’s the same argument we had in the 1970’s when math calculators were developed and we thought we might not have to remember our times tables.

Overuse of smartphones

“Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,” Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Center in Seoul, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper.  The U.S. study blamed modern lifestyles for the problem –  saying that spending time on a computer and texting prevents people focusing and memorizing information. They also blamed stress, saying hectic lifestyles prevent concentration information retention.

We’re developing brain imbalance

A growing number of adults, too, are susceptible to constant connection and overuse of technology which can lead to lateralization of brain function  which means the brain suffers imbalance. Damage to the right side of the brain is associated with deficits in ability to concentrate, short attention, memory span, and emotional disturbances, such as depression.

New research has found a potential link between action video gaming and the potential increased risk for developing psychological disorders, including dementia. In short, our short term memory pathways are becoming under utilized and will deteriorate when we overuse technology. You’re far better to red a book!

Is there a solution?

Manfred Spitzer asserts that all digital technology should be removed from classrooms. That seems unlikely. But, according to neurologist Dr. Carolyn Brockington from St. Luke’s Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City, we can do other things simply by ‘exercising our brains.’ For example,

1. Use Your Head. Retrieve information from your brain organically – rather than automatically turning to Google to look up that actress you can’t remember immediately. Sit there and concentrate until you can recall it.

2. Crack Open a Book. That’s right. Reading an actual book rather than a tablet has been shown to improve memory retention.

3. Learn a new language. Putting you outside your comfort zone helps your brain work harder, which makes you smarter.

4. Play a new instrument. Instruments require the use of both side of the brain – like the piano or the guitar, for example, which help strengthen and balance it.

5. Get physical. Physical exercise increases blood flow and accelerates the transport of vital nutrients to your brain.

Use it or lose it

As they often say, the brain is like any other muscle and it requires exercise. Play music, play scrabble or sidoku, read books, have conversations…in short use your brain power! Becoming too dependent on technology is not doing you any favors. Can you spend less time on social media, more times with your partner and children and stop outsourcing your memory to smartphones?

article source; By Black Chiropractic Group – http://www.blackchiropractic.com.au/author/blackchirogroup/

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