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Digital dementia concept: Two tree human face topiary facing each other. The left tree in full form the right loosing its leave by the brain to represent dementia

It’s no secret that we rely heavily on technology. We spend more time looking at screens than ever before, from smartphones to laptops. While these technologies have undoubtedly transformed how we communicate, work, and live, have you considered the impact they may have on your brain?


The term “digital dementia”1 refers to how excessive use of these devices can result in cognitive decline, memory loss, and other neurological symptoms. In this blog, we will look at the connection between screens and memory loss. We will also look at ways to reduce screen time and protect your memory with practical steps. 

We will also discuss how to disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself and nature in a mindful way can help you combat digital dementia.

What is Digital Dementia?

The theory behind the term digital dementia is that excessive use of the internet and internet-enabled devices causes cognitive impairment such as decreased attention and memory span, and can even hasten the onset of early-onset dementia.

It is the breakdown of cognitive abilities caused by excessive use of digital technology. Constant exposure to digital stimuli, such as emails, notifications, and social media, can impair our memory, creativity, and performance. Short-term memory dysfunction has been observed in individuals who rely excessively on technology, resulting in a decline in cerebral performance.

Excessive use of smartphones and gaming devices can result in imbalanced neurodevelopment and early onset dementia. Furthermore, relying on technology-based aids to remember information can lead to a decline in our natural memory abilities. As a result, it is critical to use digital technology sparingly to avoid the risks associated with digital dementia.

Dementia concept: Index figure with a red knot tied around it.
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Relationship between screen time and memory loss concept: A person holding a note pad with receiving notification

The Relationship Between Screens and Memory Loss

Excessive screen time during critical brain development periods can increase the risk of Digital Dementia. The is a term used to describe cognitive-function loss, memory difficulty, and concentration problems in both children and adults. Chronic sensory overstimulation from screen use can alter brain matter, causing memory and sensory function problems. It also adds to, poor posture while using digital devices can result in sensory dissociation, resulting in underactive frontal and parietal lobes, reduced higher-order thinking, and positive behaviours.

According to research by Manwell LA, Tadros M et.al2, excessive screen use can cause neurodegeneration in early to middle adulthood, as well as increased rates of age-related dementia later in life. As a result, it is critical to monitor screen time and provide adequate breaks to ensure a healthy and productive lifestyle.


Moledina S and Khoja A3 state smartphone use stimulates the left side of the brain, leaving the right side, which is associated with concentration, untapped and eventually degenerates. Forgetfulness has increased as users rely heavily on their smartphones to remember even the most minor details for them. The reason for this is search engines make information easily accessible, users are more likely to remember where to find a fact rather than the fact itself. 


Furthermore, information on the internet is presented in hypertexts, which allow users to superficially scan documents, resulting in poor memory recall.

Who Is At Risk?

Digital dementia affects people of all ages who are addicted to digital devices and is not limited to older adults.  Quoting Dr. Elina Telford, a child psychologist: “Neuroscientists are predicting that current generations will present with a higher number of dementias, including early onset dementias, than previous generations as a direct result of screen use.  

Arguably screen time is a public health risk.” Because of their heavy reliance on technology as their brains mature, children and adolescents are a high-risk population.

Overreliance on technology to remember phone numbers and other simple tasks can lead to underdevelopment of the right brain, which can lead to early-onset dementia. Active interventions such a reducing screen time, switching off notification and incorporating digital detox, meditation into our daily routine can off-set some of the symptoms.

It is critical to intervene early and prevent digital dementia before it becomes a long-term issue.

Man in suite covering his face with abstract cloud over his head and email, folder and various icons flowing down from the cloud. To represent memory loss

Symptoms of Digital Dementia

Digital dementia has similar effects on cognitive functioning and behavioural abilities to dementia. Symptoms may include a decrease in attention span and short-term memory, as well as communication and problem-solving difficulties. Over-reliance on technology for memorization and information gathering can harm the brain’s ability to retain information in the long run.


These negative consequences do not only affect adults, but also children with developing brains who are more vulnerable to the drawbacks of excessive technology use. To combat the negative effects of digital dementia, early intervention and limiting technology usage are required.


Those who are already experiencing symptoms should seek professional help and reduce their screen time. Secondary symptoms may include stress and anxiety. To know more on how digital device can have an effect on our mental health click here

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How to Protect Your Memory from Digital Dementia

In this day and age, it is critical to take precautions to protect your memory. Regular brain exercise is an excellent way to avoid the negative effects of digital dementia on cognitive functions. Memorization exercises, such as remembering phone numbers or important details, can help keep your mind sharp. Limiting your screen time or digital detox  is another way to reduce your risk. To assist you in getting started, we have listed five top digital detox methods that may be beneficial.

 It is not just the brain that suffers with too much of digital stimuli, too much time in a slouched sitting posture while using screens can be harmful to your physical health.


Spending time outdoors to connect with nature helps stimulate the senses and though the practice of mediation we can develop new neural pathways which aid in protecting our memory.


Remember that by taking these precautions, you can lower your risk and potentially improve your overall brain health.

The Benefits of Unplugging and Connecting With Nature and Mindfulness

Smartphones and computers can do a lot of our thinking and memorising for us, causing our memory pathways to deteriorate in the process. Improper posture while using technology may also result in sensory dissociation and under-stimulation of the frontal and parietal lobes, which are responsible for higher-order thinking and positive behaviours, thereby exacerbating digital dementia.

Unplugging from technology and connecting with nature may provide a much-needed break and reduce sensory overload to help combat and manage digital dementia. We create positive stimuli for the brain by being in nature and engaging with green spaces, which can help improve cognitive abilities.


Mindfulness improves our ability to be present in the moment; it helps improves focus and awareness over time. Explore five different ways in which you can practice mindfulness.  


So, it’s critical that we disconnect from our devices for a period of time each day and reconnect with nature, either physically or mentally.

Final Thoughts

It is becoming a growing concern, particularly with excessive and uncontrolled technology use. It can cause memory pathways, cognitive functioning, and cognitive abilities to deteriorate. Building a healthy relationship with digital devices can effectively combat digital dementia.


We can reap the benefits of technology while reducing our time spent on digital devices, adopting healthy habits, such as including mindfulness meditation to our daily routine and following expert advice. Let us strive to strike a balance between our use of technology and our mental health. There has never been a better time to begin practicing mindfulness and meditation in order to combat the problem of digital dementia.


Reducing screen time is critical for preventing digital dementia, which is characterised by, among other things, short-term memory loss and a lack of movement. Rather than relying on Google for every piece of information, use your brain to find it.


Engage in brain-stimulating activities such as actual book reading, meditation, mindfulness practice, learning a new language, or learning to play a new instrument. Physical activity is also beneficial because it increases blood flow and transports vital nutrients to the brain. Keep an eye out for symptoms, such as forgetfulness, poor short-term memory, and lack of movement, and limit your use of technology to avoid them. You can reduce screen time and improve memory by incorporating these small changes into your life.

As we have seen, excessive use of digital technology can result in cognitive decline, also known as digital dementia. Fortunately, there are precautions that can be taken to avoid this. Limiting screen time, taking technology breaks, connecting with nature, mindfulness and meditation, and getting regular exercise are all effective ways to combat digital dementia.

Digital dementia can cause forgetfulness, brain fog, and premature exhaustion. It is visible in the elderly, but it has become more common in teenagers and young children due to technology addiction.


Dr. Manfred Spitzer believes that the more time spent on screen media, the less social skills are developed. Dr. Spitzer advocates against training children with computers and electronic media to reduce the risk of digital dementia, claiming that it outsources mental activity, leading to attention deficit and deteriorating memory pathways. It is critical to limit screen time and maintain a healthy balance of technology and non-technology activities.

 Tips for Improving Memory and Cognitive Function

Certain lifestyle changes can help prevent or even reverse these effects. Regular physical and mental activities, running, meditation or yoga, can improve cognitive functions significantly.

Memory-boosting foods such as nuts, berries, and fatty fish can also help improve your cognitive and brain health.


Avoiding multitasking and concentrating on one task at a time can help improve concentration and memory. Mindfulness meditation can also help improve memory, concentration, and overall well-being. Furthermore, taking regular breaks from screens and limiting usage can aid in the prevention.

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Meghana Millin
Mindfulness teacher & Reiki Master
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1- Spitzer M. (2012). Digitale demenz. München: Droemer, 7 West GL, Drisdelle BL, Konishi K, Jackson J, Jolicoeur P, & Bohbot VD. (2015). Habitual action video game playing is associated with caudate nucleus-dependent navigational strategies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282(1808) Konishi K, & Bohbot VD. (2013). Spatial navigational strategies correlate with gray matter in the hippocampus of healthy older adults tested in a virtual maze. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 5 (1) Kühn S, Romanowski A, Schilling C, Lorenz R, Mörsen C, Seiferth N, … & Gallinat J. (2011). The neural basis of video gaming. Translational Psychiatry, 1(11), e53

2-Manwell LA, Tadros M, Ciccarelli TM, Eikelboom R. Digital dementia in the internet generation: excessive screen time during brain development will increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in adulthood. J Integr Neurosci. 2022 Jan 28;21(1):28. doi: 10.31083/j.jin2101028. PMID: 35164464.

3- Moledina S, Khoja A. Letter to the Editor: Digital Dementia-Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb? Ochsner J. 2018 Spring;18(1):12. PMID: 29559861; PMCID: PMC5855412.

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