Paging Susan Greenfield: South Korea has made up a new problem – ‘Digital Dementia’

my-brain-hurtsA slew of bullshit news pieces has hit the interwebz in the last couple of days, driven by a couple of articles in the usual rigour-phobic press sources. They focus on a South Korean report which claims to identify a syndrome known as ‘Digital Dementia’ in some young people. This syndrome, it’s claimed, is characterised by a deterioration in cognitive abilities brought about by over-use of digital devices.

The Telegraph reports on it here, the Daily Fail here, and Fox News have a video report here.

The fact that ‘Digital Dementia’ seems to be a condition that’s just been made-up for the purposes of the report, and no-one actually seems able to describe what it is in any precise terms doesn’t dim the enthusiasm of these news sources at all, naturally.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a widely-circulated quote from Dr Byun Gi-won, (of the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul), goes:

“Over-use 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,”

Players of Neurobollocks-bingo can put a big cross on the ‘Left/Right brain neuromyth’ section of their score-card, then.

I can’t find any further mention on the internet of a) Dr Byun Gi-Won, b) this Balance Brain centre in Seoul, or c) the actual report that these news stories are based on. I might be missing something, so if any readers do manage to track down any information related to any of those things, please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, just file this one under ‘bullshit irresponsible scaremongering, with a laughably transparent veneer of made-up neuroscience’ and move on.

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5 responses to “Paging Susan Greenfield: South Korea has made up a new problem – ‘Digital Dementia’

  1. I was looking for sources myself, and I think I have a clue. It’s not about a report, but there is a book doing the rounds by a German psychiatrist Spritzer ‘Digitla Dementia’ and this made some journalists worldwide pick up the phone…
    Check http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2973527&cloc=joongangdaily%7Chome%7Ctop

  2. It certainly looks like bollocks to me. It even made it into TheRegister today. The origin seems to be here:
    http://www.amazon.de/Digitale-Demenz-unsere-Verstand-bringen/dp/3426276038/ref=sr_1_1

  3. Pingback: Welcome to Modern Times’ Newest Malady: “Digital Dementia.” | Nones Notes

  4. I think there could be some truth in loss of cognitive function, remember how any phone numbers you used to remember by heart and now it is a struggle to remember just our own number. auto correct and auto complete reduces the need for correct spelling so we are not so reliant on remembering how to spell something. shop assistants now struggle to do basic maths years ago you would go to the till with several items the cashier would tally it up and give you the correct change quickly. My hypothesis is we have lost the desire and need to retain knowledge as we know we have it a click away.

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