A brain researcher in South Korea recently conducted a study that links short-term memory loss to heavy use of technology, specifically smartphones. Researcher Byun Gi-won studied the adverse effects of prolonged use of such technology in young kids.
In Nightcap’s unscientific experiment, we found those we interviewed, all showed signs of “digital dementia.” On a typical afternoon, we found people going about their daily routines in downtown Dallas. But, upon further review, it’s apparent – many are entering digital dementia.
We found some displaying symptoms to include memory problems.
“I wouldn’t be able to recite it. Maybe the first three numbers but that’s it,” smartphone user Abby Stutts said when asked to recite her best friend’s number from memory.
“If you ask me my husband’s phone number, I don’t know it. I just know I push the button on my phone,” Michelle Walaski said.
“The only one I can recall is my work number – all the others are lost in the abyss,” Inwoo Park joked.
Another characteristic of digital dementia as noted in the study: shortened attention span.
Walaski admitted the most she goes without picking up her phone is just a few minutes. “Five, ten minutes, I’ll take a look at it.”
“I’m probably on my phone or interacting with it at least 6, 7 hours a day,” avid user Park confessed.
The study also found emotional flattening among those who rely heavily on their technology.
“I have it with me all the time,” Stutts said. “I walk around with it –I think I’m lost without it.”
“Without it, I would be totally lost,” Jessica Coxsey said.
“It’s gotten to the point where I can’t be without it,” Park admitted.
If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, you may be entering “digital dementia.” Dr. Diana Kerwin said the more we rely on technology, the less we exercise our brains, thus stunting our memory. Dr. Kerwin is the Director of Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
“The human brain was meant to have a lot of different connections between memory and emotion and expression,” Dr. Kerwin explained. “When we use too much technology, we lose some components. So, the brain is not working internally as much. It’s not being connected as much; it’s not developing as much.”
It appears digital dementia can affect people of all generations.
“What’s happened to our brains?,” Walaski jokingly asked.
Dr. Kerwin said there are ways you can protect yourself and keep your brain from entering digital dementia.
“Any activity where you have to concentrate and use your brain and your memory is good.”