What you focused on five years, five months or five days ago is what you have in your life today. The relationships you have with your family, friends and contacts are the direct result of how you spent your time in the past and what you decided to focus upon. What you focus on today is what you will reap in the future, and now there is a new element to consider: digital dementia.

Dementia usually describes deterioration in cognitive abilities that are commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. Digital Dementia, a term coined in South Korea, is used to describe a deterioration of cognitive abilities resulting from overuse of computers, smart phones, gaming consoles and the Internet in general.

Dr. Byun Gi-won of the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, Korea, said “Overuse of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain … heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped.”

It is the right side of the brain that is linked with concentration, creativity, innovation and emotional development. Digital dementia includes other side effects such as problems with attention, organization, orientation, problem solving, social communications and reasoning.

With Digital Dementia on the rise, does the overuse of digital gadgets and electronic media foreshadow an imminent decline in personal relationships?

The Digital Dilemma

Today’s technological society has been raising and embracing two generations that are so digitally focused with brains not fully developed, they can no longer remember even the simplest of things such as a phone number. This societal change will have a great impact on both personal and business relationships. With impaired concentration and memory spans how do you effectively deal with family, friends and contacts that lack interpersonal, innovative and creative thinking skills?

Additional research shows that more than 60 percent of those studied between the ages of 20 and 30 suffer from memory loss and forgetfulness blaming an environment overwhelmed by digital devices.

A Digital Tsunami is on the Horizon

Even if you are not personally experiencing or dealing with the digital dementia problem you will be – and soon! You will find it creeping into and lowering your personal communications and closeness with your family and friends, resulting in multi-generational relationships that are further segregated, caused by hurt feelings, misunderstandings, un-met personal connection needs and impeded intimacy in one-on-one relationships.

Recognize the digital tsunami before it arrives. By being forewarned you can be prepared – it will save you hours of trying to figure out how to correct the avalanche of relational problems after they’ve happened. Recognizing that there are social and memory-based issues caused by the advancement of this technology and its unending use is the first step in dealing with it.

Go on the offense. Create a plan to either prevent or deal with the deficiencies of digital dementia so it doesn’t cripple you, your personal relationships with family, friends and loved ones, as well as future relationships. Consider the following:

• Make sure your family and friends are aware of the current research and the long-term effects of digital dementia on relationships and personal lives - this tsunami will flood into every crevice of your life and all your relationships
• Limit the use of digital devices in the presence of family and friends – ban the use of digital equipment at the dinner table
• Change the environment in your home by painting walls colors more conducive to interpersonal relations such as a pastel terra cotta or a light green with a touch of blue
• Connect with family and friends directly or in person – even a telephone call is better than a text or email
• Remind family and friends to memorize important things like phone numbers and often used street addresses to help re-build concentration and boost memory
• Do something creative personally or as a group to engage the right side of the brain to compensate for the digitally over-controlling left side – creative projects can include journaling, knitting, sewing, painting, walking on the beach, meditating, etc.

This list just scratches the surface of some of the steps you can take to overcome digital dementia that will wreak havoc with your relationships and intimate connections. Start today – you can keep and improve your current relationships as well as be prepared for meaningful relationships in the future.

© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2013

Author's Bio: 

Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs home and workplace environments that unleash the flow of focus and maximize performance while creating balance and increasing prosperity. She is author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-799-3443 or www.energy-by-design.com.