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Digital Dementia: Is your cell phone helping or hurting your memory

Updated: Wednesday, July 17 2013, 07:43 AM CDT
Reported by Kyle Rogers

Here's a challenge for you.  If you were in an emergency and you needed to call for help, but you didn't have your cell phone, would you know your contact's number?

If you don't know, you might be suffering from digital dementia.

Well, at least, that's how one doctor reportedly called it in a South Korean newspaper.

Since many of us, especially younger people, rely on smart phones to remember phone numbers and store information, the doctor says we don't memorize things anymore.

And that can be a problem --

It was April 15 when two deadly bombs went off at the Boston Marathon.

Marilyn's sister was there and had a hard time getting a hold of her husband.

“She was trying to find her husband and she was panicking because his cell phone was in the hotel, and when all that was going on, she was like he would have no idea how to reach anybody,” explained Marilyn Swist, talking about her sister.

Shoot a text to one doctor in South Korea and he'll write back calling this a sign of digital dementia.

“I’m hoping I don't get it anytime soon,” said a skeptical David Barkley.

The doctor says young South Koreans use smart phones too much, taking a toll on their memory. It's nothing to LOL at.

In our ‘unscientific’ experiment, it wasn't easy to remember phone numbers you'd think somebody should know.

“Oh I don't even know my kids’ cell phone numbers,” commented Marilyn.

“But my cell phone remembers it, so I don't need to remember anything,” commented Caela Glass.
Let's face it, it's easy to take on phone numbers.  We just plug them into our phone and that's the last we see the digits.  But to go as far as call this digital dementia?

“No, there's absolutely no evidence to support these assertions,” Dr. Paul Eslinger, Neurologist with Penn State Hershey Medical Center told us.

Dr. Eslinger says instead of this being a problem, he's seen smart phones being helpful.

“I see individuals coming in to clinics using smart phones in creative ways expanding cognitive expansion and ability,” Dr. Eslinger explained.

“Because your phone stores so much information, you can get more things done, it's a positive,” agree David Barkley.

So for this doctor, he's just not convinced.

“It’s kind of an ongoing human experiment, just as mass education was, is that it's not for everybody, you find out, you find out people learn different ways,” commented the Doctor.

Doctor Eslinger says the storyline of digital dementia doesn't really make sense to him because it hasn't been long enough for young people to be followed into adult age then into older age to see if there's actually such a thing.

But, still, he says too much of relying on technology could be a hazard.
Digital Dementia: Is your cell phone helping or hurting your memory


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