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March 6 Talk at Southwestern Will Focus on ‘Digital Dementia’

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Are electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets bad for children’s developing brains?

Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Manfred Spitzer will give a March 6 talk at Southwestern on “Digital Dementia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds.” The talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Olin 105.

The talk will focus on possible risks associated with digital media: Can children spend too much time on laptops, tablets, smart phones and other electronic devices? Are they addictive? Is there evidence that these devices may even be linked to irreversible deficits in brain development? And are there looming issues relevant to adults as well?

According to a 2013 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children today  spend an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. The term “digital dementia” has been coined to refer to deterioration in cognitive abilities associated with overuse of smart phones and game devices.

Spitzer is medical director of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Ulm, Germany, and host of the German public television show “Geist und Gehirn” (“Mind and Brain”). In 2012, he published Digitale Demenz: Wie wir uns und unsere Kinder um den Verstand bringen (Digital Demetia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds).

 

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