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Are Your Kids Suffering from Digital Dementia?

Our digital devices are not only changing the ways we live, but they’re also changing the ways that our brains work too.

 

Our digital devices have become the cornerstone of our lives. We rely on them every day. But the more we rely on these devices, the less we rely on our brains. And our memory-making capacity changes as a result.

[tweet bird=”yes”]Our digital habits are literally altering the architecture of our brain.[/tweet]

Remember the days when you memorised your husband’s phone number, or could recall directions without relying on your smartphone, or memorised facts?

 

Hmmm….not so much these days as we hand over more and more of our mental tasks to technology.

[tweet bird=”yes”]What is digital dementia?[/tweet]

“Digital Dementia”, is a term coined by top German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer in his 2012 book called Digital Dementia. It is a term used to describe how our overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of our cognitive abilities. Researchers believe it’s so severe in some cases, that it’s changing our brain architecture in ways that are similar to people who’ve suffered head injury or psychiatric illnesses.

 

Researchers are concerned that our brain may not be developing symmetrically. There are concerns that this uneven development may lead to the early onset of dementia.

 

We’re literally handing over some of our important cognitive tasks, such as memory, to our devices.

 

This is something called “cognitive off-loading”. We’re no longer committing things to our long-term memory. Instead, we’re remembering the key terms that used in Google, or where we stored the information (did I store their phone number under their first name or surname?).

 

Our cognitive off-loading has resulted in under-developed reasoning and memory skills. We’re simply offloading so many things to our devices that we’re not developing our memory-muscle.

 

And as we know when it comes to brains, it’s the use it or lose it principle.

 

So how can we ensure that we’re not at risk of developing digital dementia, and our kids too?

 

Here’s a video that explains more about digital dementia and outlines six simple tips to prevent digital dementia.

Six Simple Ways to Prevent Digital Dementia:

 

  1. Do “organic” searches- don’t always rely on Google. Try and commit some things to memory.
  2. Read “real” books to help with memory recall.
  3. Engage in physical activity- it stimulates the brain and body.
  4. Limit screen-time.
  5. Learn a new language or an instrument.
  6. Experience moments first-hand and not always via a screen. Commit memories to your own personal hard-drive.

 In the comments below I’d love to know if you, or perhaps your children, are suffering from “digital dementia”? What are you doing to try and combat this?

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I’m Dr. Kristy Goodwin

Researcher, speaker, author, and mum - and not only do I GET it, I’ve dedicated my entire career to helping my fellow professionals and parents explore this exact digital dilemma.

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