Remember the days when you had all your important phone numbers memorized? If you were at your friends house and needed your parents to pick you up, you just picked up the phone, dialed, and soon they were there. When it was time to go home, you just got in your car and figured out your way there. Before we carried supercomputers in our pockets, we had important information memorized. Most of us can still recall our childhood home number by heart. And if you wanted to use the internet to settle a dispute, you had to make sure no one was on the telephone, along with waiting for twenty minutes to connect. Now, smartphones have taken the job that our brains once performed resulting in Digital Dementia for many. Continue reading to learn what it is, and if it’s affecting you.
What Is Digital Dementia?
The term Digital Dementia was coined by German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer in 2012. It describes how the overuse of technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities similar to someone who has suffered a head injury or has mental illness. There is deterioration in cerebral performance such as short term memory dysfunction. Memorizing phone numbers and addresses kept our brains sharp. A device has replaced what our brains once did. The generations that grew up having smartphones may never get to fully develop that part of their brain.
You’re using primarily the left side of your brain when you use a smartphone. That’s the rational side of your brain which thinks more linearly and likes hard facts. Do you wonder why creative people are called right-brained? The right side of your brain is more imaginative. It’s also linked to your emotions and intuition. The over-reliance on smartphones leads to our right-brains to become underdeveloped. Damage to your right brain is associated with short attention span, memory problems, and even depression.
What You Can Do About It
It doesn’t have to be permanent. Neuroplasticity has taught us that the brain is resilient. You can balance things out if you take the right steps. The key is keeping the mind active. The sooner you begin, the better. The following activities are proven brain-developers:
- Read a book
- Learn a new language
- Exercise regularly
- Play an instrument
- Call instead of text
Remember that the mind is like a muscle, it needs activity to stay strong. Not enough use and it starts to disintegrate. Anything that keeps your mind active is a step in the right direction. Even stopping for a minute, taking a breath, and centering yourself can help you stay alert. If you need to get home, resist the urge to use your phone’s GPS app. If Magellan made it around the world using only the stars, you can make it home from Taco Bell without Google Maps. All of these small actions will help you avoid Digital Dementia.
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