"Digital Dementia" Threat Causes Concern Among Doctors

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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"Digital Dementia" Threat Causes Concern Among Doctors


Doctors in South Korea say overuse of digital devices cam impede development of the brain, leading to irreversible "digital dementia."

Odds are that if you're reading this, you have multiple digital devices in your life - a PC, gaming consoles, a smartphone and so forth - and according to doctors in South Korea, that could be a problem. "Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain," Dr. Byun Gi-won of the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul told the JoongAng Daily newspaper. "Heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped."

According to the doctor, the failure of the right side of the brain to properly develop will negatively impact attention and memory span, and lead to emotional underdevelopment. In 15 percent of these cases, it can also lead to the early onset of dementia. Children are at greater risk of suffering deleterious effects of digital device overuse because their brains are still developing.

It's a problem everywhere (if it is in fact a problem) but nowhere more than in South Korea, which has the highest rate of smartphone ownership in the world at 67 percent - 64 percent among teenagers - and an alarming (at least in my eyes) 18.4 percent of people between the ages of 10 and 19 who use their smartphones for more than seven hours per day. Doctors say those growing usage rates will likely lead to increasing numbers of "digital dementia" cases in the future.

Source: The Telegraph [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/10138403/Surge-in-digital-dementia.html]


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Fdzzaigl

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Mar 31, 2010
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I really wonder why this story is suddenly entering the news everywhere. Here in Belgium we got this story in the papers a couple of days ago by a German doctor (Manfred Spitzer) who wrote a book about it. Today it's all over the magazines together with interviews with said doctor and I spot it all over international media.

Strange, why now? Possibly they're hoping to start something.

Regardless, I think a large part of it is fear-mongering, the same thing that happened with every single new media evolution happens now again. From the interviews with that Manfred Spitzer guy he would barely even find the "ON" button of a computer (that's just an impression), but basically wants computers and television banned for any children under 18.

Bashing your face in against a wall would probably be a better use of your time than trying to make that happen for the next generation.

However, I do think they have a point here and there. The best way for children to grow up is not sitting inside in front of a screen, it's playing outside with friends their age in a safe and hopefully green environment. I also agree that giving every child their own laptop or Ipad isn't going to do anything except making Apple that much richer. Computers do allow you to "cheat" your way past many goals of education by copying and pasting without thinking, or giving you the answer of a question before you've thought about it.

That's not an intrinsic problem with computers though, it's a problem with the programs on those computers and because the teachers who are supposed to guide children in their use often know less about how to use them than the children themselves.
 

Daemascus

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Mar 6, 2010
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I'll believe this when there are multiple scientific studies. With actual SCIENCE behind them, not logically flawed studies that prove their point with bad science.
 

flarty

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TiberiusEsuriens said:
I miss the days of being kicked outside to go play in the woods. We are the last outdoor generation.
Not if I have anything to do with it. camping every weekend when my daughter is old enough.
 

VanQ

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Oct 23, 2009
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TiberiusEsuriens said:
I miss the days of being kicked outside to go play in the woods. We are the last outdoor generation.
Ah yes, I remember when my dad would kick me and my brother and sister out of the house and send us down to the local creek in the middle of the Australian bush to faff about until it was too dark to stay out.

Super Not Cosmo said:
Man this is complete and tota HOLY SHIT! SQUIRREL!!!!! Now what was I saying?
I find it to absolutely appropriate that your avatar is Cosmo when you type something like that.
 

Robby Foxfur

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Sep 1, 2009
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much like one of the commentators from facebook i'd love to know what causes this? surely it is not the idea that the device is electronic. Its probably the speed and easier reference that is the internet that is causing this. I often joke with my friends that "I wonder what that means, OH WAIT! I HAVE THE SUM OF ALL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE IN MY POCKET!" one of us normally shouts while pulling gout our phone to see what the answer is.

I like being able to do that and that often leads to deeper discussions but I guess that's not the case for everyone. i guess we better all start eating lots of fish, it supposedly improves your memory.
 

Thaluikhain

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Jan 16, 2010
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Pft, they used to say pinball machines would destroy people's brains. Or electricity. Remember when it was mobile phones?
 

vid87

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And here I was (seriously) convinced we were all just going to go blind from the eyestrain.
 

Formica Archonis

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Nov 13, 2009
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South Korea? These are the same guys that believe in fan death [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death], right?
 

Jamous

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I should imagine that -overuse- can have some negative side effects. I would imagine overuse in formative years would amount to doing almost nothing other than using these things. I doubt that many people overuse to that extent. Oh well. Only time will tell.
 

SadakoMoose

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Jun 10, 2009
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Listen, this might sounds a bit nationalist, but given that this research is coming out of Korea, I'm a little wary.
Remember Professor Hwang Woo-suk? The stem cell fraud? As someone with Juvenile Diabetes, trust me, we were all outraged when the truth came out. Some of us were saving up money to fly to South Korea for the treatment, only to be totally heartbroken. There's little doubt that an overexposure to electronic media from an early age can be damaging, but just HOW damaging is a matter of debate. I'd be very careful with this report. That said, it couldn't hurt to disconnect every now and again.
 

PoolCleaningRobot

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Mar 18, 2012
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Smells like bullshit to me. Though this phenomenon is sort of real and was started by books actually. People feel less inclined to remember things when they can just look them or write them down. The difference is now is instead of asking silly unimportant questions like "I wonder what movies have Tom Cruise in them" and then just stop caring and forgetting about it, people can look it up on Internet
 

Colt47

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Oct 31, 2012
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So according to the generality of the information given in the article, by the very fact I'm using a computer (a digital device) to program and create artwork for a significant portion of the day, I'm under-developing a portion of my brain. Something tells me we aren't getting all the info on the study...
 

SSJBlastoise

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Dec 20, 2012
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Andy Chalk said:
Doctors in South Korea say overuse of digital devices cam impede development of the brain, leading to irreversible "digital dementia."
Sorry, but this accident is pretty funny considering the topic lol.

I can understand this which is mainly why it is pretty annoying seeing 10 year old with smart phones. Just seems kind of pointless letting your kid have one at that age.
 

The White Hunter

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Oct 19, 2011
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Andy Chalk said:
and an alarming (at least in my eyes) 18.4 percent of people between the ages of 10 and 19 who use their smartphones for more than seven hours per day.
Wait...

What!?

I fucking work more than that.

How the hell do you spend seven hours a day wrapped up in your god damn phone?

Is angry birds and facebooking with morons that you only half know really that appealing?