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Digital Dementia Is Real Brain Fog From Tech
What are the effects of technology on your brain?
Digital Dementia comes from an overload and over use of tech. The symptoms are brain fog, a fuzzy- can't concentrate feeling and confusion
If any of this sounds familiar, your tablet, smartphone or computer could be the culprit Digital Dementia could be the diagnosis.
Caused by an Overuse of Technology, Digital Dementia looks a lot like the burnout those of us who have been working from home can be experiencing.
Check out these symptoms and see if this is the WFH burnout sounds familiar.
- lack of ability to concentrate
- being forgetful
- brain fog
Manfred Spitzer, MD and PHd wrote the first bok titled Digital Dementia in 2012.
The tech obsession began in 2000. That's was the introduction of the first smartphone. Remember the euphoria? You could surf the internet, text, and chat with your friends at the same time.
And yet, down the road, this instant access was found to lead to digital dementia and feature symptoms such as poor focus, burnout, and forgetfulness, according to renowned neuroscientist, Manfred Spitzer.
The best way to unplug from our devices? Put it in a Faraday Bag for EMF protection, privacy and a much needed break.Too much WFH Tech Time Can Contribute to Burnout
Dr. Spitzer says there's all sorts of ways our minds are effected from an overuse of digital technology, mainly, the breakdown of cognitive abilities. Spitzer proposes that short-term memory pathways start to deteriorate when we're not using our thinking skills and at the same time, we're using too much technology.
To help increase awareness of this common condition, Spitzer wrote the book, Digital Dementia. In his book, he discussed findings first discovered by Korean physicians and scientists who concluded too much computer usage was to blame.
It Started With Complaints of Constant Brain Fog
Spritzer focused on their reports of young adults coming in with complaints of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, forgetful, and suffering from constant brain fog.
After looking at the data, Spitzer built on the scientists’ conclusions by focusing on the cognitive breakdown present. He theorized that the symptoms occurred when we rely too heavily on our devices and don’t use our short-term memory enough.
Our Attention Spans have been Transformed and Rewired by Technology,
There's no doubt. Think about the time that you got your first smart phone. It was probably around the year 2000, right? Well, Microsoft did a study and they found that the average attention span to focus on a task went from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to less than 8 seconds in 2013--a goldfish can focus better than that!
One of Technology's Effects on Your Brain is Distraction- no wonder were having such a hard time focusing on work now that just about all of it is online!
Life online and on our smartphones-- is so full of connection and possibilities that we can easily find ourselves in cycles of distraction.
- You're writing an email and a notification that a friend just posted on Instagram pops up
- You're on a call and you get another call while you're texting your daughters school that she can't find her homework and she will be late
- You're researching a project and land on a page filled with interesting ads that you click on as you bounce back and forth between shopping a and researching
Dr. Spitzer says the bottom line is this:
The biggest issue with tech distractability is that it is difficult to make meaningful connections because new information never gets to your long-term memory.
Leading to Digital Dementia Forgetfulness and Burnout
Instead of going to "long term memory" the information sits in your short-term memory and then is forgotten.
Reduced concentration lowers your ability to connect new information with old information and, in turn, form more in-depth inferences.
YOU CAN PREVENT DIGITAL DEMENTIA
Us? Not using our short term memory?
Uh, maybe. How many times have you asked someone for their phone number and watched as they began scrolling through their contacts?
12 Healthy Steps to Avoid Harmful Effects of Technology, Sharpen Memory and Avoid Work-From-Home Burnout.
1. Master Another Language
Now that's something fun to do during quarantine!
Learning another language prevents any form of mental decline. Research has shown that learning something new, like another language, may even provide five years of dementia-free life to Alzheimer's patients. Dr. Lisa Genova explains that when you learn you build up and strengthen neuro-synapses. Wikipedia describes the process:
. . . the synapse plays a role in the formation of memory. As neurotransmitters activate receptors across the synaptic cleft, the connection between the two neurons is strengthened when both neurons are active at the same time, as a result of the receptor's signaling mechanisms. The strength of two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long-term potentiation.
2. Add Music to Your Day
Come on, just the idea of some great tunes while your working from home sounds refreshing.
Many studies have shown that music can improve IQ and provide stimulation for your brain. Practicing music is the best exercise, but listening is excellent, too.
3. Spend Time Offline for a Clear Head
Carve out an hour (or more!) and declare it “tech-free hour”. Spend this time creating new things like poetry, funny speeches, interesting and zany characters, or just read a book.
Yoga anyone? I LOVE the Organic Non Toxic Yoga Mats we found!
Seriously, Try and spend an hour of life off line each day and relax your brain and let it form deep thoughts and connect to the here and now--the real world: explore nature, write with pen to paper, use your imagination and make up whimsical or visionary characters--create!
Get Out A Coloring Book! Coloring Has Been Proven To Increase Mindfulness and Decrease Anxiety
During this time, let your brain relax with some nature exploration, manual writing or color in a coloring book! Research on coloring showed increased mindfulness and less stress. You may want to try our beautiful letter press Creative Kits- they can help you and your kids enjoy the real world and the deeper connections your mind will create.
Hear, touch, taste, see, smell, and feel the magnificent world around you.
Go slow and savor everything.
4. Socialize with Family and Friends: Connect- Even if it has to be online.
Socialization is a vital part of our lives. It boosts our mood, helps us learn more, and teaches us to expand our perspective.
Manfred Spitzer write in Digital Dementia "When you use the computer, you outsource your mental activity." He then connects lack of mental activity with fewer social skills, "The more time you spend with screens, the less your social skills will be."
So try this: Step away from the screen and have an online dance party. I actually tried this last month and it was a blast. We laughed, we moved and our eyes weren't glued to the screen.
5. Get Your Heart Pumping With Aerobic Exercise
Exercise is wonderful for your body and mind!
In fact, a study of mature women with mild cognitive decline held at UBC verified this statement. This research project showed that after six months of movement-based exercise, these women showed improved memory.
This study proved that aerobic exercise could make your hippocampus (the leading supporter of your memory) larger.
6. Find Another Way to Read, Study or Access Your News
Add newspapers and magazines to your daily routine. These offer a broader range of stories and can go toward your “tech-free hour”. And if you're studying, you'll have better retention if you use actual books vs reading online. Instead of the Kindle, try a real book. You're eyes with thank you too!
Meditation is a excellent way to improve your concentration. You can do it for just five minutes a day and learn to still your mind. Meditation also helps with insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Yoga is an awesome idea, because it lets you meditate and exercise at the the same time. We love our non-toxic Yoga Mats.
8. Avoid Phone Distractions and Online Distractions
Notifications are a constant in our life. These pings and flashing lights that alert us to emails, texts, and social media posts can dominate our concentration.
To boost your ability to learn and concentration, turn off all notifications. They will be there when you’re ready for them.
And beware the Hyper link when you are on line: Yes. Experts tell us that clicking on the links to research or similar articles (or awesome products) can lower lower your comprehension.
Consider reading the article or blog first-then going back and exploring the links.
9. Get Quality Sleep
We know what happens after a bad’s night sleep — brain fog, irritation, an urge to fall asleep anywhere. Sleep is non-negotiable. We need it like we need air.
Many studies,—a century’s worth—have proven that sleep is critical to keeping a healthy memory. Turns out that during the sleep cycle your awesome body prevents nasty Amyloid Beta build up. Lovely little Glial cells come and clear away the metabolic waste that accumulates our brains are in the wake-state. This happy healthy process occurs during our deep sleep state, so do what you can to get it!
And when it comes to sleep and technology, make sure that phone stay's away from your head!
A brand spankin new 2021 study reveals that exposure to cellphone radiation from a 2600Mhz signal-which is a popular carrier signal on the LTE band btw, decreased melatonin. And alarmingly the scientists noted that there was increased cell death in the brain as well as structural deformation-- which means warping, bending, twisting structural components! Not good. Avoid another reason to distance yourself from wireless EMF
There are a massive amount of advantages received from sound sleep, but a few additional benefits include a stronger heart and sleeker physique.
We love our EMF-Free Analog clock with NO Blue light!
10. Try A Digital Diet
Part of being mindful Dr. Young, Screen and Internet Addiction expert recommended that Moms and Dads and kids too adopt a digital diet in order to stay fit and healthy in our modern world.
Experiencing this new era of work and school from home is an excellent time to remind ourselves and our kids about the importance of screen balance.
“Educate kids to find a balance, a healthy use. I talk a great deal about digital diet, digital nutrition. I compare it to treating it like we do food because often times, we just don't see moderated and healthy use of technology,
Go back to the premise that eating protein and fruit and vegetables with the occasional treat or sweet, makes for a healthy, well fueled body--and you teach young children that much of Technology's good. --Like researching online and working on reports- it's very useful and productive. But it has to be balanced with the time we play games online --of course, you don't want to just make your whole life sedentary around computers. You want to actually be also active in physical education, eating well, exercising.”
11. Do ONE Activity at a Time
Online and offline, avoid multitasking. There are only about 2% of people in the world who are good at multitasking, so most of us are faking it. Not only does multitasking frazzle your nerves, but it prevents you from processing information on a deeper level.
Do one thing at a time, especially when you are on your devices. This Timer does a great job helping you stay focused whether your WFH(Working From Home) or browsing online.
12. Give your eyes a break from irritating digital light
That's me and Dave Asprey IRL! We really do wear our orange blue blockers at night- even to a party. Why? Because we like our sleep and we like our eyes to be relaxed and we know blue light isn't just from our screens. Blue light at night can come from harsh over head lights and TV screens.
- It can cause eye strain and vision problems.
- It can suppress melatonin production and stop the melatonin from being released in our bodies.
- Layer on Blue light protection with screen protectors and blue light glasses. We like to keep these orange-tinted glasses on our desks to use anytime we want to avoid digital blue light and let our eyes relax. The warm tones really help soften screens as well as block 86% nasty blue light.
Oh, and keep your phone out of your sight — preferably in another room. According to a study done by Adrian F. Ward and co-authors, even if you turn your phone off and place it face down, it is still on your mind. Yes, your phone is still “...leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive capacity.”
Your phone is a tool to help you connect more, navigate easier, and discover new experiences--it was designed to make your like easier--when it stops feeling that way, put it down..
More Digital Dementia Details
Does Dementia Happen Suddenly?
No, it doesn't.
Good news-our brains have billions of neurons that connect in one massive network, much like the internet.
In fact, Dr. Spitzer says we can lose half of your neurons and still be able to function normally--but he adds-- losing more than half will result in a form of dementia—conditions that feature mental decline and include Alzheimer’s. As more neurons disappear, the others scramble to retain functioning.
A study done by
With dementia, age worsens cognitive decline, so protecting your brain—and your child’s—is critical.
Can Digital Dementia lead to Digital Addiction?
How do you know when you (or your child) have moved from an obsession to an addiction?
You can start by taking the Screen Addiction Test developed by Dr. Kimberly Young, Tech Wellness expert and renowned specialist and founder of the NetAddiction Center.
Dr. Young explains that addictions present with symptoms like isolation, intense pre-occupation, inability to not use screens and devices, moodiness and obvious addictive behavior.
There is a vast difference between a Digital Obsession—which leads to Digital Dementia—and an addiction. For each, the symptoms are handled differently. An obsession -and dementia can be tapered by being mindful and aware, while an addiction is all-consuming and won’t stop without professional intervention.
Dr. Young recommends a simple Digital Diet to promote balance with technology,
"I think it’s just raising awareness and making a habit out of not checking or using technology throughout the day or for long periods of time."
Can Digital Dementia Brain Fog and Forgetfulness Can Be Cured?
Digital dementia isn’t permanent, but it does take a focus, mindfulness and a bit of willpower to stay clear of its harmful effects.
Use the List Above to Help Prevent Brain Fog, Distraction, Tech Burnout and Digital Dementia.
To help you reclaim your attention, feel more rested throughout the day, and do more than remind your children of everything, we’ve gathered the stats and theories on digital dementia and many ways you can avoid cognitive decline.
If you reach for anything, reach for a happy, healthy and balanced life.