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Digital Dementia

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Our young people are going to grow up and not be able to function as adults.

Our young people are going to grow up and not be able to function as adults.

Is Technology Causing You to Lose Your Mind?

Has anyone of you ever heard of "Digital Dementia"? "Digital Dementia", a term coined by top German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer in his 2012 book of the same name, is a term used to describe how 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. (From "Digital Dementia", Alzheimers.net).

Since the advent of cell phones and one touch communications, I have found it increasingly difficult to remember phone numbers and addresses that seemed to be so easy before. I have noticed that families have become socially desensitized to each other's needs as well. Have you ever gone into a restaurant and noticed a family of four or more sitting at a table, and each family member was staring at their own handheld device, saying nothing to the person next to or across the table from them?

The social structure of our communities and the world will eventually suffer. Nowadays, "having friends and socializing" is accomplished through social media venues such as Facebook. What about any social interaction in an online classroom? We can make comments to other's comments, but we are not sharing a room with 30 other people to hear vocal inflections and see facial expressions with our comments.

Those who are old enough to remember the days before the Internet also remember what it was like to socialize and converse face to face. They remember what it was like to play outside after school, and to run and jump and get all sweaty. Kids nowadays don't do that. They come home and plop down on front of a computer, eat sugary snacks and become morbidly obese while at the same time killing their short term memory and other parts of their brains. Their brains are actually not exercised, and they (the brains) get lazy. As the generations unfold, we are going to end up with a society of people that are basically non functional because technology is functioning for them.

I just read an article today on Google News (I know, technology) about how last January, France enacted a new law forbidding the use of electronic devices (phones, tablets) in their schools by any student younger than 16. They noticed that kids weren't playing at recess. They weren't exercising, they were sitting using their devices.

As a Pastor of a small church, I have noticed that when I call for a scripture reading, the majority of the congregation pull out their cell phones and use their Bible Apps. I have to admit that I have one on my phone, but nothing compares to actually having a book, the Bible in your hand. The same goes for books in general. Publishers are going bankrupt because of electronically published media replacing bound printed material. (And yes, I have published several pieces myself this way as well).

Back in 1973, when I was a sophomore at Inglewood High School in California, some friends and I cut class just to be able to go to the senior's "Moving Forward in Life" presentation. There was a motivational speaker there from NASA that told all of us about being prepared for the future, "to expect great advancements in technology". In fact, he told us then that "within 30 years, every home would have a computer and every person would have a "Star Trek-like communicator" and we would be able to talk to anyone else on the planet that had another communicator." The laughter roared throughout the auditorium. It sounded so far fetched. But it happened, and it was life changing. It was life altering. We all need a sense of balance here. We need to keep electronic media in perspective and still consider the "old and primitive" ways.

Times are changing fast. The world is a political pressure cooker. If something happens and we are suddenly without all of this technology that we have developed to make our lives easier, what will we do? Can our brains handle the overload?