Have you ever heard a scatter-brained, stressed out friend mutter ‘I'm so ADD today’?
In today's age, it's common to dismiss our flustered life (and brain) as normal. But it's not normal.
Overall 1.8 billion people own smartphones and use their devices on a daily basis. Some studies estimate that an average person checks their screen 150 times a day. Data shows that nearly 70% of 11 to 12-year-old kids use a mobile phone and 90% by the age of 14.
Unfortunately, modern society is addicted to technology, to the point that it is ruining our brains. In fact, more and more young people who’ve been raised in a digital age are showing signs of short term memory dysfunction as a result of their addiction to technology. However, the Millenials are the first generation in history to be exposed to screens and mobile devices throughout all stages of their physiologic development, therefore the long-term affects are still unknown.
A study in Korea (where 67% of people are connected to their devices, more than anywhere in the world) and a study at UCLA revealed alarming information about the developing brains of young people who spend 7+ hours a day attached to their ipads, smartphones, computers, and gaming consoles. The effects on the brain is proving to be very damaging.
A new health epidemic has arrived, and it is called “Digital Dementia.”
“Digital Dementia”, a term coined by top German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer, is a term used to describe how the 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, psychiatric illness, or Alzheimer's.
Think about it... when was the last time you had to memorize a phone number? While many of us grew up remembering phone numbers and other important information, most kids today don't need to remember anything because we have devices that do it for us. And if you can't recall a piece of information, instead of spending the extra few minutes to recall that information organically – by accessing our natural memory and using our brain – we just go look it up on Google.
A growing number of adults, too, are susceptible to constant connection and overuse of technology which can lead to a brain imbalance (where one side is stronger than the other). Damage to the right side of the brain is found with digital dementia, and it is associated with deficits in ability to concentrate, short attention span, lack of memory, insomnia and emotional disturbances, such as depression and anxiety.
But that's not all - not only are our brains declining, our posture is declining at the speed of technology.
“Tech Neck” is a forward head posture in response to looking down for prolonged periods of time, such as when sending a text message or checking social media on your phone. Patients with Tech Neck have a flexor dominant posture (hunched forward, rounded shoulders) and maintaining an upright posture is difficult because their body is inefficiently resisting gravity.
This posture leads to an imbalance in the different parts of the brain and contributes to high rates of ADHD, autism, coordination disorders, developmental delays, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.
When patients have this forward posture, not only do they look more primal they act like it too. They are angry, they lack empathy, they have no motivation, their sensory and motor pathways are blurred so they lack coordination, and their higher-level cognitive skills that make them human, are diminished.
Signs of Digital Dementia:
inability to remember number patterns or directions
lack of motivation
lack of memory
neck & back pain
I will discuss how to reverse digital dementia in the next article. The first step you can do to reverse it is to perform the brain exercises specifically prescribed for you, as well as commit yourself to a posture rehabilitation program. If you haven't received your unique brain and posture rehab program yet, please call the office and schedule an appointment.