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Digital Dementia – Ever heard of it?

Everybody in the world is a big fan of Google! Google has made our lives easy and better. With the advent of smartphones, tablets, laptops, free internet, and much more, Googling has become a day to day activity. It is an irony that you ended up reading this article also by Googling! Not just that, with the advent of voice-activated personal assistants like Siri, Galaxy and Cortona, you don’t even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you’ll have your answer.

But with so much information easily available, are we growing smarter when compared to our older generations? Is this so-called “Google generation” healthier? Technology is dominating our lives.  The Younger generation is spending an average 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. Some argue that with easy access to information, we have more space in our brain to engage in creative activities.

Over the past few years, many researchers are studying about behaviours of the generations that are exposed to the digital world. “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.

Another survey by International Psychogeriatric Association 2013 says, older adults were more likely to report healthy behaviours (such as regular physical exercise, a nutritious diet, and not smoking, that are associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia) than were middle-aged and younger adults. Reports of memory problems increased with age (14% of younger, 22% of middle-aged, and 26% of older adults). These findings indicate a relationship between reports of healthy behaviours and better self-perceived memory abilities throughout adult life, suggesting that lifestyle behaviour habits may protect brain health and possibly delay the onset of memory symptoms as people age.

Writer Nicholas Carr contends that the Internet will take away our ability for contemplation due to the plasticity of our brains. “… what the [Internet] seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation,” Carr wrote.

A 2011 study in the journal Science showed that when people know they have future access to information, they tend to have a better memory of how and where to find the information — instead of recalling the information itself. That phenomenon is similar to not remembering your friend’s birthday because you know you can find it on Facebook. When we know that we can access this information whenever we want, we are not motivated to remember it.

Another researcher Frank Gunn-Moore, from the University of St Andrews in the UK has recently said, "It's important to promote good brain health and to do that is to use it, but these days we seem to outsource our brain to the internet." "If we want to know something, we look it up online rather than trying to recall the information from our memory." "It's an experiment the human race is running and we will have to wait and see if this outsourcing affects dementia prevalence," Gunn-Moore was quoted as saying to The Sunday Post.

With the increase in population that are affected by dementia, it’s high time we give some work to our brain. Concentrate and try to recall information instead of Googling it right away. Read an actual book, not an e-book! Learn a new language, play instruments, also engage yourself in some physical activities which will increase blood flow to your brain!

 

Let’s avoid Googling and give some work to our brain.

 

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