Digital Dementia? Whaaaat?

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Are you flatlining in the area of your emotional responses? Feeling like your ‘screen savor’ is on when people are talking to you? Do you find yourself flipping your attention into every shiny object that crosses your path? What about your retention ability? A new disorder has slithered its way to the front lines of our awareness: digital dementia. I thought that nomophobia was eye opening: an anxiety disorder due to being away from your cell phone. Ever take a cell phone away from a teenager? Shazam! Now that’s a physical expression of nomophonia. German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer came up with the term digital dementia to describe a negative effect on the brain due to overexposure to technology. Basically the left hemisphere develops more the right hemisphere resulting in an imbalance of the brain.

 

Did you know that your right brain is responsible for creativity and emotional responses, including connection and the desire for sustainable relationships in your life? The left hemisphere supports fact finding and more linear thinking. Having a dominant left hemisphere puts a damper on ones ability to feel and even desire emotional connection and responses to life.  Dating has shifted, more youth and young adults have moved away from traditional dating and even in social situations are commonly seen on the phone rather than present to the people in front of them. Adults are guilty of this as well. So what do we want to do about it?

 

As much as technology has been a gift to this generation, it comes with a shadow when overused, digital dementia, computer hunchback and nomophobia being among the top shadow contenders. Whenever you drag out the negative into the light of your awareness you flip yourself into a space of empowerment. Knowing the negative effects of technological addictive behavior gives us an opportunity to build in systems for prevention. Every 90 minutes your brain goes into a rest zone for 20 minutes, it is known as the Basic Rest Activity Cycle of the Brain (BRAC). Honor your BRAC by taking heart filled breaks which stimulate the right side of the brain:

 

  • Pray/Meditate
  • Practice Mindful Living: Be Present People and the Moment You are In
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Listen to music
  • Sing/Whistle/Laugh/Hum
  • Playful movement/Dance
  • Communicate loving emotions: I appreciate you; I love you; I am grateful
  • Random acts of creative kindness
  • Pull up heart felt moments using your imagination: watching a sunset; playing with a pet; hugging a loved one
  • Hug someone you care about for 30 seconds
  • Paint/Draw/Journal…pick up a pen and paper.

 

An attachment is an emotional state of clinging due to the belief that without some thing; situation; person you can not be happy; fulfilled; content; satisfied; confident; enough. The following questions will help reveal your level of attachment to your technology and perhaps your risk of digital dementia:

 

  • When you find yourself away from your technology do you feel anxious?
  • How many times do you check your email in a day?
  • How often do you check social media?
  • When you hear a ding; chime; song indicating that you received a message when you are in the middle of something do you drop what you are doing and immediately check the message?
  • When talking with another human being are you holding your phone and is it on?
  • How often do you take technology breaks throughout the day?
  • What percentage of your attention is taken up by technology (electronics, including the TV; cell phone; computer) when you are with your family? friends?

 

With the gift of each new day of life we are giving a constant opportunity to identify and adjust our behavior in such a way that we flip the best version of ourselves to the front lines of our words; thoughts; deeds and actions…or not and our choice makes all the difference in the outcomes we experience.

 

I remember when I was in the ICU from a MRSA Staph infection that went rampant in my body, due to third degree burns from the radiation/chemo combination, reflecting on a simple question: would I be doing what I am doing today and being the person I am being if I knew I would die tomorrow? Deathbed wisdom offers us all the opportunity to live life backwards. At the end of each day simply pause and reflect on how your actions either support or flatline the person you are committed to being during this journey of life. Perhaps resurrecting some “old fashion” ways of communicating and learning would be beneficial to resurrect at this time: writing with pen and paper while learning and or in team meetings; brainstorming with pen and paper; doodling; picking up the phone and calling; writing thank you notes; talking walks while the sun is out; unplug from technology and plug into relationships with people.  Prevention from digital dementia lies in your daily choice to unplug from digital input as much as possible.

 

Support Materials:

24-Hour Body Support Created to Flip Your Biology into Supporting: Optimism; Gratitude; Nutrition; Mindfulness; Mediation: Click Here to Learn More

 

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