Yes, there is such a thing called Digital Dementia, in case you haven’t heard about it before. Perhaps you may have not heard about the term, but chances are that many of you reading this post, including myself who is writing it, is or has at some point in time, suffered from Digital Dementia. If not just you, perhaps your entire family. Whichever the case, it is serious, and we need to act on it sooner or later to make positive changes so that we do not remain nor become victims of Digital Dementia.
In this technological age that we live it, it probably seems a little difficult, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be, and I’ve put together some tips at the bottom of this post to help you through the process of change. There’s a part of me that’s even thinking that perhaps “Digital Dementia” should be an
option when asked if you suffer with any disabilities!
Let me know in the comments below whether you or anyone you know, seems to have Digital Dementia.
The term “Digital Dementia” originated from a book published in 2012, “Digitale Demenz: Wie uns und unsere Kinder um den Verstand bringen (Digital Dementia: What We and our Children are Doing to our Minds) by Professor Dr. Manfred Spitzer, who is a German psychiatrist, psychologist and neuroscientist. He devised the term Digital Dementia to describe an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities.
When I was a little girl, I am referring to the time before the technological age – I was smart, now it seems I have outsourced my mind to technological devices. I used to remember birthdays and other special days without any notifications. I used to know by heart, phone numbers, addresses, postal codes and I didn’t require a tv guide to tell me what time my favourite programme would be on television then.
Whilst the smart phone and the digital age comes with many benefits and convenience, it also comes with consequences. It makes us lazy. It makes us disconnect. Whilst we may be raving about the number of social media followers and likes/comments we have online, in real life, some areas of our lives are getting the thumbs down. We lack engagement at work. We lack quality family time with each other.
"Smartphones are making us stupid"
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you would know that I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek, so when I watched this video for the first time, it hit home! Not just for me personally, but also thinking about my child who uses digital devices and my loved ones.
You can’t not watch this video if you or your loved ones use digital devices, it amplifies my message in this post in the most effective way:
Digital Dementia - I'm guilty
I had flashbacks (of not so long ago) where I was on the dance-floor and I had my cell phone in my hand. Did I need it? Nope! Did it somehow limit me from dancing? Yes, my hands were not as free. So, in this instance, I compromised the fun I had dancing.
There’s been instances where I was in the company of others, but I was looking at my phone and this video has so aptly pointed out, how I have on so many occasions, made others feel less important. That certainly was NOT my intention, but people don’t observe my intentions, they watch and judge my actions/behaviour. I have to ashamedly admit that I
became a victim of Digital Dementia…to a some degree.
Fortunately for me and those around me, I am aware of it and I AM dealing with it by making some changes. Being a blogger, does require me to be at social media events and whip out my cell phone and in those instances, they are okay but it’s not okay for me to be checking my notifications when I am in the company of other people.
It’s about having balance. It’s about being discipline. It’s about setting limits.
Whether you’re on google, or playing with game consoles, or smart phones, or tablets, or stuck in front of a computer or television screen, whether you’re checking email or your shares in stock – any and all of these things can lead to Digital Dementia.
The reason I was inspired to write this post was more from a parenting perspective; my child used to spend a lot of time playing outside and he loves it. As it got colder over the past few weeks, he has spent more time indoors.
This has resulted in more time with the iPad. I found myself sitting right next to Kayden, calling him a few times. He did not hear me. His head did not move in another direction. He was totally glued to his iPad.
It hit me (and daddy too), that we needed to limit his iPad usage and we did.
Ways to avoid Digital Dementia
Whilst you may not be able to control the time spent during the week on a digital device, if you’re sitting in front of a computer to do your work, you can start by making a change where you ARE in control, e.g. the weekend. If you’ve been spending more than 5 hours a day on digital devices, try to reduce that to 3 hours.
Turn off notifications – this will force you to look at them when you have set aside time for social media. With constant notifications, you tend to open them during meetings, during dinner and basically at any time and place, when you should not be doing so.
Regardless of where you are, when using digital devices, allow yourself breaks. As in get up and walk around. This will give your brain a chance to relax during prolonged usage.
It is important to maintain good posture when looking at digital screens. The more you slouch and look down, the less alert your brain becomes. Some people even suffer from repetitive strain injury. Ensure that you consult with your health and safety department at work to ensure the correct ergonomics are in place. If required, you may need to resort to getting accessories that will promote proper ergonomics – this includes the chair you sit on.
Indulge in more physical activity which will increase the brain’s memory and cognitive abilities.
Turn off your modem and router before sleeping, there is no reason for that radiation when your devices are not being used.
Set limits on – data usage, time spent watching TV, time spent playing on gaming consoles and on all other digital devices. This includes reading the news on your favourite app, you will be amazed at how much of time is consumed doing this and if you’re anything like me, it often alters my state of mind depending, which is why I’ve unfollowed many news and related pages on my social media feeds.
Play board-games or indulge in other activities that involve interaction with people – without the use of digital devices
I’m not sure how most of us have allowed technology to take over our lives, not just social media but also the use of other digital devices. I do believe the first step to making a change, is to create awareness and then acceptance. If you do want a better quality life, one that involves quality time with your loved ones, then I suggest that you reevaluate your current status and make a commitment to make the changes you would like to see. It’s not going to be easy because we’ve become rather comfortable with the way things are, however, it IS possible.
What do you think? Is this topic relevant to you? Do you experience this or not at all? Would you like to share more tips on how you’ve managed the situation? I’d love to know in the comments...