Have you heard of the new term, “Digital Dementia”? 

This refers to the cognitive issues and decline that are related to the out-sourcing of our brain to technology and the overuse of tech devices.

Our human brain has evolved over millions of years. It is designed to support and to work with our body in a dynamic, sensory-driven way in order to:

  • Meet survival needs
  • Navigate environments
  • Learn and improve skills
  • Store and recall information
  • Build relationship and alliances

It is not designed to spend countless hours on tech devices!

Many of us have become so accustomed to technology being part of our lives. We’ve become so reliant on it that it’s hard to imagine living without it. What would you do without your smart phone or computer? You probably do not want to entertain the thought!

My daughter, who is part of Generation Z, is considered to be a ‘digital native’, like her cohorts of this time period. This generation is literally growing up with a smart phone in their hands. They do not know a world without technology and social media, thus the nickname: “iGenZs”.

‘Homo Technus’

A brief historical timeline can provide insight into the contrast between the initial emergence of humanity and the vast and recent changes that humanity has experienced due to technology:

  1. Two million years ago the first humans, called Homo Erectus, (‘upright man’ in Latin), emerged in Africa.
  2. Two hundred thousand years ago, modern humans known as Homo Sapiens (‘wise or astute’ in Latin) appeared on the same continent.
  3. In 1945, the first electronic general-purpose digital computer (ENIAC), that filled an entire room, was built.
  4. In 1973, Micral N, the world’s first ‘personal computer’ was created.
  5. Most people did not have household computers until the 1980s and 1990s. 

Due to the vast implementation of technology into our modern day lives, our way of communicating, interacting, processing, and delivering information, both personally and professionally, has changed dramatically over the past thirty to forty years. Thus, the new name I created for our current members of society: Homo Technus.

While it seems more efficient and timesaving to let computers do such a big chunk of our work (and living) for us, it’s not natural. Our brains and bodies have not had a chance to adapt.  Perhaps, due to the contrast between the God-given creations that we are, compared to the artificial, man-made equipment of the technological landscape, we will never be completely equipped to handle it. 

Digital Dis-ease

There are many issues caused by tech-overuse, such as strain on our vision from focusing on flat two-dimensional screens and brain-drain from lack of blood and oxygen circulation due to limited movement. As well, people who spend a lot of time on their devices experience poor posture and resulting sensory issues.

  • The back of the brain (brain stem/occipital) becomes over-active, focusing on motor and sensory issues, including breathing and posture.
  • The front of the brain (executive functions), responsible for higher order thinking, motivation, goal setting, problem solving, memory. creativity, etc., becomes under-active. 

Decades from now, we will have even more research that captures the negative impact of technology overuse. In the meantime, let’s not ignore what we already know and pay attention to symptoms that could be related to the overuse of technology such as;

  • Slouched posture
  • Developmental delays
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Social seclusion
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Anger and Emotional outbursts
  • Balance and Coordination issues 

Better tech practises:

There are strategies you can use to mitigate the overuse of technology and to not let it take over your life and your brain!

To begin, notice how much time you are spending each day on your tech devices; then think of ways to cut back such as:

  • Set a timer for yourself that reminds you to take frequent screen breaks.
  • Delay your tech in the morning so you set your own pace instead of technology setting it for you.
  • Make sure you unplug well before bedtime so you can unwind naturally.
  • Use your own brain instead of your device to do simple calculations.
  • Read a map and then find your own way rather than using a GPS.

Digitized Posture

Your spine is responsible for the stimulation and nutrition of your brain. So one of the best things you can do is to work on your posture while interacting with tech.

  1. Place your phone up to eye level.
  2. When seated at your computer, pull your shoulders and head back. Your ear should be over your shoulder and your shoulders over your hips with both feet on the ground and the spine straight.
  3. Don’t use your laptop in compromising positions. Get it out of your lap and up closer to eye level.

These are simple starting points which won’t require you to give up your devices but require you to manage how and when you use them.

Best part, this will keep you in control of your tech, instead of your tech being in control of you! 

To Your Fit Brain & Fit Life,