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Tackling digital dementia to prevent vehicle collisions

Tackling digital dementia to prevent vehicle collisions might well be something we need to do increasingly in the future. The phrase digital dementia was coined by Manfred Spitzer in 2012 following studies in South Korea, one of the most digitally connected countries in the world. It describes our overuse of technology like smartphones and how it’s breaking down our cognitive abilities. In the worst cases, it appears to change brain function in a way that gives effects similar to those caused by a brain injury or psychiatric illness.

What is digital dementia?

We have all the information we need when we do a Google search and we don’t have to remember phone numbers anymore because they’re stored in our contacts list. We just don’t need to remember things like we used to.

This gives an imbalance in our brain development and this affects the ability to concentrate and reduces attention span and memory. I’m not sure who calculated this but a goldfish apparently as an attention span of 9 seconds. What’s worrying is that our average attention span has reduced to around 8 seconds.

It also affects the ability to manage emotions such as anger. None of these symptoms are conducive to a good standard of driving behaviour.

What are the symptoms?

We pick up our phones on average 58 times a day and spend over three hours a day on them. Half of our screen time sessions occur within three minutes of our last screen time session. Researchers have found that smartphone use increased massively during the pandemic.

So if you have a colleague who:

  • Mainly converses with friends through text or messaging apps
  • Quickly forgets names
  • Is getting less able to do simple sums in their head
  • Can only remember their office and home phone number

They may well have digital dementia.

How to tackle digital dementia?

The good news is that digital dementia can be reversed, but positive action needs to be taken. How can your employees reverse digital dementia and look after their brain? Here are a few tips you can give them:

  • Start to remember a few phone numbers without using your phone contacts
  • Check a document without using spell check
  • Read a book so you can practice memory recall
  • Get more exercise in the great outdoors, it increases the blood flow to your brain
  • Learn a language or play a musical instrument, that uses both sides of the brain
  • Take in events and remember them rather than focusing on getting it all on video
  • And use your brain to do some basic maths rather than use the calculator on your phone

I hope you’ve found these suggestions useful. If you need help developing a system for managing driving at work activities, please get in touch at [email protected]

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