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Do you rely on your smartphone to do most of your problem solving, date keeping and reminding? Do you jump straight onto Google when you’re looking for an answer to a tricky question or for ideas on how to entertain your kids? Well, new research is suggesting that it might be time to put our smartphones aside and let our brains think for themselves.
According to German neuroscientist, Manfred Spitzer, the overuse of digital technology could result in the breakdown of cognitive abilities. Using the term “Digital Dementia” to describe this phenomenon, Spitzer suggests that our short-term memory pathways will start to deteriorate as we no longer exercise these pathways to remember simple, everyday things. Instead of committing simple things such as phone numbers, directions or even names to our long term memories, we’re “off-loading” these details into our devices. This is quite aptly called “cognitive off-loading” and has resulted in under-developed reasoning and memory skills.
In his book titled “Digital Dementia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds”, Spitzer warned that the deficits in brain development may be irreversible and even called for digital media to be banned from German classrooms before children become "addicted".
In support of this, Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, Korea, states that the overuse of gaming devices and smartphones hampers the development of the brain which is especially detrimental for younger users.
In an interview with JoongAng Daily newspaper, Gi-won stated that heavy smartphone users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped. By leaving the ride side of the brain untapped; attention span, concentration and memory are likely to be affected which could ultimately lead to the early onset of dementia.
While this might sound very daunting to you, there are some simple steps you can take to help you and your children exercise your memory pathways and get your right brains firing.
- Engage in physical activity to help stimulate the brain and the body
- Limit screen time
- Practise remembering phone numbers, shopping lists and directions without using your phone.
- Learn a new language or instrument
- Less Google; More brain power.
- Encourage your children to play games that challenge their memory and help develop their cognitive abilities.