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Why Kids & Digital Media Consumption are Enemies

A lecture summary on “Digital Dementia – The risks and side effects of digital Media use” by

Prof. Manfred Spitzer, M.D., Ph.D. from Ulm University, Germany.


Dr. Spitzer commenced his speech by very briefly explaining how the human brain functions, develops & grows from childhood to old age. The main takeaway here was, that a human brain in principle, is able to process and learn new information faster and better, the more it is challenged to learn at a young age. Meaning that unlike a computers hard drive, which storage capacity will be full at some point, the human brain endlessly builds and rebuilds new neurons and connections within it-self.

Throughout our life our brain is wired to learn and it keeps doing so until we die. The more the brain learns when it is still young, the healthier it will be when it gets older. This means dementia or the outbreak of it can be prolonged in old age. This can be achieved by having a brain that received the right stimuli through its life span. 

skills formation

Brain development is most active during the early years of a human’s life. It is essential that our brains receive the right stimuli from the right sources during childhood and adolescence. These stimuli are received mainly through education, exercise, eating healthy and being part of the community.

brain development

Furthermore he showcased various case studies, that digital media use during childhood has mostly negative effects on brain development. He did not mention a single case study that has proven any positive effects for digital media consumption during childhood or adolescence. “These studies do not exist; yes you do find journalistic papers and articles, but hard scientific proof cannot be found.” according to Prof. Spitzer. 

A very interesting case study that he shared illustrated the effects of watching TV. The test was done with a group of kids in grade 2 in a controlled environment. The one group was allowed to watch TV over a couple of months for only 1 hour a day. The other group was allowed to watch TV more than 3 hours a day. Afterwards both groups of kids were asked to draw people. These were the results:

Kids watching TV

This illustration stunned me. All type of age groups were attending the lecture, altogether 300 – 400 educated people, from all walks of life. When Dr. Spitzer put on this slide, a loud “Wow” erupted in the lecturing hall. Dr. Spitzer also elaborated on the importance of toddlers and kids playing with objects to train and build muscle memory in their feet and hands. While touching physical objects the brain learns.

motoric skills

The lack or difficulty in the development of motoric skills in Toddlers or kids, can be linked to them being introduced to tablets and mobile phones at an to early age. This is because the brain does not learn any of these skills when toddlers tap or swipe on an I-pad or mobile device.

kids and digital media


Kids and digital media consumption

His scientific research and research of other scientists shows the following. The introduction of digital media especially in schools has a long term negative effect on the kids’ learning ability and brain development. Several accredited research studies worldwide have scientifically proven this. To prove his point at the end of his lecture Prof. Spitzer said, that we also do not give toddlers and Kids just one “shot”  of alcohol a day, just so that they can get use to it. The same should apply to kids & digital media use.

Many more case study examples and research slides where presented by Dr. Spitzer during the lecture. The above information and slides are my personal takeaways, which I wanted to share with you. As an Online Marketing Manager and parent I truly believe that we carry the responsibility. We have to protect our kids from the negative impacts of digital media. If pre-schools/schools introduce digital media, such as e-books/tablets to “enhance the learning experience of our kids” we as parents must take a stand against this.

We need to give little brains the chance to develop. They need to build those connections so that we do not end up with a generation of Smombies!

For more info on “Digital Dementia – The risks and side effects of digital Media use” click here: 

To read or buy the book “Digitale Demenz” click here: 

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