If you’re someone who owns, uses, and loves computers, smartphones, or tablets, you should know that you are not alone. According to a 2015 U.S. Census report, an estimated 78 percent of Americans said they owned a desktop or laptop computer. And 75 percent of respondents said they owned a smartphone or a handheld wireless computer, such as an iPad. Lastly, around 77 of the individuals surveyed said they paid for monthly internet service. Indeed, many people have a love affair with these technological devices and others that can help boost productivity and even be a source of entertainment when they have a little downtime.
But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? This particular question has been raised by the scientific and medical community, with both camps believing that too much time spent on these devices can contribute to memory problems. And it does not end there as many are also of the belief that laptops, smartphones, and the like can put some individuals at risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases when used excessively. Even with data to support the claims made by these researchers and scientists, it is reasonably safe to assume that most Americans are not going to stop using their beloved digital devices any time soon. But at the very least, they should consider reducing the amount of time they spend using them if possible.
Science Explains Why Constant Overload of Visual Information Can Be Dangerous When It Comes to Memory
To understand how and why technology might fuel mild memory problems and even more severe ones, including those classified as neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, we need only look at two studies. The first one comes from Medical News Today, an online resource for medical information aimed at clinicians and the general public alike. And the second is from the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and recognized as the largest biomedical research agency in the world.
In the study published by Medical News Today, researchers found that spending time online via digital devices did improve multitasking abilities while surfing the web for many individuals. However, this seemingly positive thing also proved detrimental in some cases, according to researchers involved in the study. In short, researchers found that the more time an individual spent online multitasking, the more distracted they became in their regular day-to-day lives. The study data from the National Institutes of Health pointed to something even more alarming relative to digital devices and memory problems.
How Excessive use of Digital Devices Can Cause Neurodegenerative Diseases
In the study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that excessive on-screen time, in addition to memory and social cognition issues, can keep individuals from getting enough quality sleep. And this can trigger changes in brain chemistry that may increase the likelihood of falling victim to certain neurodegenerative diseases. To that point, in addition to feelings of isolation, researchers have linked Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other severe neurodegenerative diseases with being sleep-deprived.
How Technology Affects Both Young and Adult Minds
When it comes to how technology, namely the digital devices that many of us hold near and dear, excessive use can affect young and adult minds in similar ways. However, the impact is generally more profound among younger individuals whose brains have not yet fully developed. For reference, studies show that the human brain does not fully develop until around the age of 25, which, coincidentally, is when the frontal cortex matures. And for even greater context, the frontal cortex plays a critical role in the following:
- High-level cognitive function
- Working memory
- The social-emotional evaluation of stimuli
Understanding that the frontal context is responsible for a large percentage of memory and general cognitive function, let us now turn our attention to how it is impacted by spending too much time using technological devices. And in doing so, we should probably take another look at the studies published by Medical News Today and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. According to the study published by Medical News Today, too much time online, especially among those younger than 25, can, over time, affect neuroplasticity in the brain, the brain’s natural capacity to change in terms of structure.
The effects of neuroplasticity can also take a toll on the frontal cortex region of the brain. And in younger individuals, specifically, this can delay its full development. When this happens, it negatively impacts high-level cognitive function, working memory, and overall cognitive function. Even in those over the age of 25 with a fully developed frontal cortex, the same issues can arise. Further, spending too much time surfing the web, for example, can trigger neurodegenerative diseases due to heightened neural activity in the brain, notes a study published by the National Institutes of Health. And this was said to be the case among those who are young and old alike.
Natural Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp at Any Age
Although most Americans are not likely to stop using computers, smartphones, tablets, and the like any time soon, it is still possible to maintain a sharp mind while reaping the benefits associated with these modern-day technological marvels. Irrespective of age, here are few ways in which they can go about doing so:
Vitamins and nutritional supplements – An excellent way to fend off memory problems, not to mention mental illnesses, is by supplying the body with the right vitamins and nutritional supplements. Some of the ones that can help in this regard include the following:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Hormone health monitoring – Another way to minimize the risk of developing memory problems and, worse yet, severe neurodegenerative diseases is by staying on top of your hormonal health. Doing so can also fend off mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. For those not aware, hormonal imbalances, including low human growth hormone (HGH) levels in the bloodstream, have been linked to mental health and cognitive problems. And these problems become especially noticeable when male and female growth hormone levels fall below 0.4 and 1.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), respectively. Adults with proven HGHD get a lots of benefits of tratment, in particular HGH for men over 40 can be very efficient and transformations are impressive.
Meditation – Unbeknownst to many, chronic stress can adversely impact the mind and body. Studies show that stress can impede the pituitary gland’s ability to secrete growth hormones, which, in turn, triggers a spike in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The combination of low HGH levels and high cortisol levels often gives way to mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. The same is true of memory problems and neurodegenerative diseases. That said, meditating is a great way to combat stress, not to mention ramp up HGH production and lower high cortisol levels.
Additional Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp at Any Age That Might Surprise You
While the previously mentioned steps are all excellent ways to keep one mind sharp as they age, there are several, some of which might come as a surprise. And they include the following:
- Playing sports or exercising
- Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep each night
- Seeking help for emotional or psychological problems if you have them
In summary, memory problems, in addition to aging, can stem from many things. But, whether you’re young or old, it is not an inescapable fate as there are many ways to keep your mind healthy and strong. Of course, the information contained in this article is not a substitute for medical advice provided by a licensed physician. That said, if you’re experiencing memory problems or early signs of a neurodegenerative disease or mental illness, you’re encouraged to schedule an appointment with a physician as soon as feasibly possible.