Youngzheimer Impacts the Minds of Smartphone Users

박근후, 김건희, 최윤서l승인2019.11.04l수정2019.11.04 12:44l374호 1면

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  Ever had a moment where you struggle to remember someone’s name? And when you try to phrase something, you just can’t think of the word you are looking for? These are just a few of the many side effects experienced among college students who regularly use smartphones. Some have even lost their memories. These situations are more common among younger generations in their 20s and 30s and should not be overlooked. This is called "Youngzheimer" or "Digital Dementia". The new term "Youngzheimer," which is a combination of the words "young" and "Alzheimer," refers to forgetfulness at a young age due to excessive use of digital devices such as smartphones.

▲ We often forget what we were going to do. (Photo by Dong-A newspaper)

  While Youngzheimer includes sleep disorders and stress, among other things, as common factors leading to the development of the syndrom, the use of smartphones is cited as the primary cause. Smartphones replace the "memory" part of the brain and slow down brain function overall. This causes 'digital dementia'. Although this does not pose a serious threat to life and is therefore not classified as a disease, it can cause immense stress and result in issues such as panic disorders and emotional disorders among sufferers. With time, it is also possible that these effects will develop into dementia, so caution is needed. The biggest difference between the two diseases, digital dementia and general dementia, is their cognitive function. If the cognitive function remains, it can be classified as forgetfulness and if the cognitive function is hindered, it can be classified as dementia. Forgetfulness means you can remember the whole picture, but struggle to remember the details, whereas dementia means not remembering something entirely. So, what are the symptoms of the Youngtzheimer? It’s when you can't memorize simple things like a person's phone number, the meal you had the day before, or a person’s face that you’ve seen before.

  There's a simple checklist to test for Youngzheimer. For example, “I can’t recognize anyone I've met before”, “I've forgotten where I left off”, “I repeat the same questions”, “I've lost a lot of computational power”. If you expereince more than five out of 10 of these symptoms on the list, early Youngzheimer is suspected.

  The Dankook Herald (the DKH) conducted a survey to find out how many Dankookians (students of DKU) know about Youngzheimer. First, more than half of all cell phone useage time was reported as 4 to 5 hours per day. More than 60 percent or participants said they were sometimes at risk of excessive cell phone use. They were aware of the dangers, but it didn’t change their usage habits. The next question confirmed that more than 70% of the respondents knew what Youngzheimer meant. In addition, using the checklist mentioned above, Dankookians self-diagnosed and reported sometimes experiencing early Youngzheimer symptoms. When actions that are often forgotten are repeated, they usually make notes or delete their most frequently used apps. Finally, as a result of the survey, respondents said they would exercise caution when using their smartphones and as a result of their new found awareness of Youngzheimer, they would take actions to consciously reduce usage time.

  Many Dankookians are suffering from the symptoms of Youngzheimer. The DKH aims to inform readers on how to prevent its further advance. The simplest and most fundamental way to prevent Youngzheimer is to limit your smartphone usage. It is best to shorten the time you spend online using video platforms such as Youtube, or SNS such as Facebook and Instagram. It is not easy to voluntarily reduce the amount of time users spend on SNS, so creative ideas must be employed. The DKH suggests doing a temple stay. Temple stays relax the body and mind by taking a simple retreat to an offline temple. Cellphones are prohibited and meditation is the main activity. Meditation eliminates unnecessary thoughts from our minds and helps us focus on out inner selves. If you don't have time to do a temple stay, there are other ways to reduce the habitual use of your phone. When you hear alerts coming from your phone, you are likely to reach for it to respond. The use of an anti-disruptive system will greatly reduce the frequency of picking up your smartphone. There are also ways to install applications that help reduce cell phone usage. We would like to recommend an application called 'Forest'. This app plants trees as long as the user doesn’t use his or her phone. Trees “planted” in the app will also be planted in real life and as a result, we can make our own forests. However, if you look at other apps in the middle of the setup time, the tree dies. Therefore, this application can reduce phone usage and protect the environment. And if you want to learn more about how addicted you are to your cell phone and how you can solve it, you could try visiting the 'Rest Smartphone Center' homepage(https://www.iapc.or.kr). You can get expert solutions to your addiction after taking various tests. Above all, it is important to make efforts to voluntarily reduce our smartphone usage time. Youngzheimer has not yet been deemed a serious disease, but wouldn't we be able to live fuller lives if we all took simple measures to cut back on our use of smartphones starting today?

▲ This is a checklist to see if you are Youngzheimer. (Photo by Samsung Electronic blog)

박근후, 김건희, 최윤서  dankookherald@gmail.com
<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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