A new word has been coined in South Korea — ‘digital dementia’. With people spending more and more time on their electronics daily, they are becoming alarmingly reliant to them, so much so that they are losing cognitive function, to the point that some are unable to memorize even their own phone number.
Digital dementia is said to cause similar symptoms that of a head injury. “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 (the side in charge of deep focus) untapped or underdeveloped,” Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper.
It is especially worrisome for those Koreans aged 10 to 19, whose brains are still developing. Unfortunately, this is the demographic that has seen the largest increase in use of smartphones. 18.4 percent of them spend seven or more hours on their smartphone.
Japan has also been seeing a similar rise in electronics use over the years. So much so that many Japanese citizens have been growing so shy that they visit a ‘cuddle cafe’.
What is a cuddle cafe? Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Located in the heart of the Akihabara electronics district in Tokyo, Soiyneya (literally translated, “sleep together shop”) allows patrons to lie in the arms of a young girl, with their eyes closed, and do nothing for 3000 yen ($30) an hour. It’s an extra 1000 yen to stare into the girls’ eyes for 1 minute though. However it sure beats lugging around your pillow girlfriend.
Or marrying a video game.
Ironically, the increase of digital connectedness has been the main cause in the decrease of social intimacy. The richness and complexity of face to face interaction has been replaced by text and emoji on a screen.
On second thought, that last statement may not be entirely true. The newest trend in Japan? Oculingus — the licking of eyeballs.