A new research in South Korea found excessive use of digital devices such as smartphones and iPads can contribute to a new form of a disorder called digital dementia.
According to the Medical Daily, a US-based medical news online publisher, digital dementia is characterised as the deterioration of brain function as a result of the overuse of digital technology such as computers, smartphones and the internet.
The research found that youngsters who relied on technology suffered deterioration in cognitive abilities, most commonly seen in patients who had suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. Spending too much time with digital gadgets did not help one’s full development.
The study also revealed that teenagers, when teens relied on digital technology, they were no longer able to remember everyday details, even simple things such as their phone numbers.
“Overuse of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,” Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, said. “Heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped.” It also cited researchers who said the right side of the brain was linked with concentration and, when it was underdeveloped, could affect attention and memory span. “In 15 per cent of cases, this can lead to the early onset of dementia. In addition to messing with memory, digital overuse is also connected with emotional underdevelopment, with children more at risk than adults as their brains are still growing,” it reported.
The findings come after a US study published earlier this year found young people were increasingly suffering memory problems, with 14 per cent of people aged between 18 and 39 complaining that their memory was poor.
Mr Shekhar said parents in Fiji should control how much time a child spends with digital technology and on the internet.
There is concern in the Fiji Islands that the children there are very much getting addicted to these technologies like these electronic games. Adapting to new technology can be very good. However it can also be very hazardous and dangerous if we don’t manage it well. As doctors have said, it will have a negative effect on the cognitive behaviour.
The Ministry of Health’s national adviser on non-communicable diseases, Dr Isimeli Tukana, said digital technology hampered the physical activity of people. He said they found an increasing alarming trend of children sitting idle with their digital gadgets. Dr Tukana said of Fiji says “It is an interesting study because Korea is very well ahead with the digitalisation era, which has just started in Fiji. So it will be very good to keep a close watch on that study. As in any other development, overuse of technology also has its disadvantages so we should be looking closely at that study in Korea to help us make some decisions on our front,” .”Here in Fiji, it (overuse of digital device) has cut down their physical activity, they are not as playful as our generation, they are more digitalised.”