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In Ghana, the famous question “we gyimi?” (in English Are you mad? crazy? stupid?) has become commonplace whenever people display unusual or antisocial behaviours. The slur might not be the same across Africa, but we all have a way to address people we think lack common sense or behave in a “strange” way.  

Even if very few Africans speak about Digital Dementia, we can not deny the fact that we have sometimes observed its symptoms around us. Also, many of us neglect and overlook the issue of mental health because we think there are more important issues to address such as poverty, infectious diseases, terrorism and so forth. However, it is high time we accept the fact that  Mental and physical health are inseparable

An immigration officer mistakenly stamps passport twice because of her phone. Is it funny or alarming?

Now let us look at three practical downsides of Smartphones today: 

1- Distraction. The video above is an example of how unprofessional any of us could be when we decide to use a phone whilst working. This has an effect on our attention span and productivity. Clearly, multitasking employees are more prone to avoidable mistakes, and injuries. This also means being on the phone while driving, walking and texting. 

 2- Memory loss and forgetfulness. We are gradually losing the ability to memorise or remember things. Some of you reading this piece don’t even remember exactly what the title says. How challenging was it for you to memorise your new phone number or multiple passwords? As if it was not enough, today there are even applications for that. 

3- Less time to socialise.  It has become difficult for us to build relationships. How common is it today to be in a room with family, friends, and colleagues without talking to each other? One of the most challenging scenarios is when you meet to discuss an important issue and your counterpart is busy on her phone. You can’t really tell her to put the phone down, because you are afraid she might be offended. Now the only option is to also pull your phone out, and you begin to ask yourself if meeting in person was really necessary.

“Génération têtes baissées” concept 

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ”

_ Aristotle, Ancient Greek Philosopher.

I sometimes wonder how Aristotle would call our society today. What has become the norm after all these years of civilisation? Now, it is up to us to decide whether we want to continue to harm ourselves with our cell phones or use them appropriately. It is Important not to confuse socialisation with social networking. According to a report by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement (YHM) in the UK, Social Media is part of the problem, and Instagram comes out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental wellbeing.

Instagram tops the list for most damaging social media platform on mental health.

Phones are very important today, as they allow us to keep in touch with our family and friends, access the internet and do a lot of important things. However, a phone could be the root of our unproductivity, a damaged brain and fewer real friends. Therefore Balance is the key if we do not want to be controlled and changed by what we are supposed to control.