Digital Dementia: Are we creating a future global mental asylum from overuse of electronics?

Digital Dementia: Are we creating a future global mental asylum from overuse of electronics?


“Right, my phone. When these things first appeared, they were so cool. Only when it was too late did people realize they are as cool as electronic tags on remand prisoners.” ~ David Mitchell, Ghostwritten

These days more and more kids are using smart phones for a long time daily.  How does all that impact their ability to focus, to sleep and their studies?

Well, one study in Japan has found a strong connection between how overuse of mobiles hampers sleep and also the school performance.

The research was conducted last November with 23,139 participants from the fifth grade of primary school up to the third year of high school, at 771 public schools nationwide.

It showed, for instance, that 53.5 percent of junior high students who said they use a mobile phone for more than four hours a day to talk, send email or surf the Net, habitually do not get to sleep until after midnight. That ratio was much lower, at 14.9 percent, for those who don’t use mobile phones at all.

The research also found that overusing mobile phones affects the quality of students’ sleep.

Around 78% of the kids who used or watched an electronic device had trouble waking up the next morning.  This was compared to 60% of those who don’t use the gadgets at all.

The study carried out by City of Sendai and Tohoku University said that the the school performance was significantly impacted.

The research, published in March, looked into the correlation between studying enthusiasm and smartphone usage. It found that using a mobile phone for an extended time even affects students who habitually study a lot.

That implies a lack of sleep or reduced study time as a result of mobile phone usage is not the only way these devices affect performance at school.

The study revealed that students who spent over two hours every day both studying and using messaging apps, especially the popular Line, scored worse on a math exam than those who spent less than 30 minutes a day but didn’t use a smartphone at all.

Manfred Spitzer, a top neuroscientist has called it Digital Dementia.   It is term to describe the condition where 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.

An eye-opening study in Seoul, Korea – where more people are connected to digital devices (over 67%) than anywhere in the world –  as well as U.S. study conducted at UCLAhas revealed some alarming information about the developing brains of young people.  They’re spending upwards 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.

With more and more electronics entering our lives, are we rushing towards a world that is nothing but a large collective mental asylum?

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Featured Image Source: Flickr


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