Digital Dementia on the Rise

Information overload is a by-product of the twenty-first century that most of us have adapted to in some way or another. To say that we have outsourced our brains to our smart phones would be a complete understatement. We use these devices to store phone numbers, schedules, and “to-do” lists to such an extent that we no longer use our hands tactilely to write things down and do simple, mundane tasks.

As the first generation to experience this, we are learning that it has its shortcomings.

Let’s begin in the simplest place. Our mind is like a muscle. It grows stronger with use. As with any other muscle in the body, if you don’t use it, you lose it. While technology may have replaced many things, one thing that it remains woefully defective in (thankfully so) is “right brain activities,” such as the ability to create, think outside of the box, and problem solve.

With the rise of technology comes this new phenomenon coined by researchers in South Korea as, “digital dementia,” meaning a deterioration in cognitive abilities that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. The human fallibility factor underlying this concept is that once people have placed something somewhere, they feel like they no longer have to remember where they put it.

This has resulted in a spike in the number of doctors no longer getting early detection of brain-aging defects in their patients due to technological devices. The rationale behind this is relatively simple. If a person uses a third-party device such as a GPS to tell them how to get from point “a” to point “b,” it prevents them from realizing when they have real memory lapses. In this way, it becomes a crutch. Therefore, they don’t go to the doctor to get checked out because they are blind to the fact that there is anything wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. Our smart phones have revolutionized the way we communicate and have many benefits that transcend looking up facts and figures. But the tragedy lies in the fact that if you were to lose 50% of your memory, how efficient would you be?

Conversely, if you could increase your memory, think about how much more power you’d have.

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