Do you know your partner's phone number?

Researchers warn 'Google effect' is damaging our memories

Entertainment Desk July 02, 2015
Researchers warn 'Google effect' is damaging our memories. PHOTO: ANDROIDSIGMA

Researchers have warned that we are increasingly forgetting information - knowing it's on our phone. Over 90 per cent of Americans admit they are dependent on online information. They say this change is a result of our brain adapting to the internet, reported DailyMail. 

They found many people no longer know their partners or their children's phone numbers - instead having to rely on their handset.

The problem, dubbed 'digital amnesia' is a result of our brains adapting to an age where our phone, and the internet, is always always available, scientists say.

Over 90 per cent of Americans admitted their dependency on the internet and phones as tools for remembering and an extension of their brain.

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The Kaspersky Lab study has dubbed the problem Digital Amnesia: the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.

"Connected devices enrich our lives every day, but they have also caused the prevalence of Digital Amnesia in our country," said Chris Doggett, managing director of Kaspersky Lab North America.

"As consumers, it is important for all of us to understand the long term implications of this effect, and why it reinforces the need for us to diligently protect our valuable information and precious memories."

A survey result showed that 91 per cent of consumers can easily admit their dependency on the Internet and devices as a tool for remembering and an extension of their brain.

Almost half (44 per cent) of survey participants say that their smartphone holds almost everything they need to know or recall.

Not surprisingly, the study also found that the loss or compromise of data stored on digital devices, and smartphones in particular, would leave many users devastated.

More than half of women (51 per cent) and almost the same number of 25 to 34-year-olds (49 per cent) would be overwhelmed by sadness since they have memories stored on their devices that they believe they might never get back.

One in four women (27 per cent) and 35 per cent of younger respondents (16 to 24-year-olds) would panic: their devices are the only place they store images and contact information.

Experts say the problem has been caused by our brain adapting to the internet.

"The act of forgetting is not inherently a bad thing," said Dr Kathryn Mills, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London.

"We are beautifully adaptive creatures and we don't remember everything because it is not to our advantage to do so.

"Forgetting becomes unhelpful when it involves losing information that we need to remember.

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"One of the reasons consumers might be less worried about remembering information is because they have connected devices that they trust.

"In many societies, having access to the Internet feels as stable as having access to electricity or running water," said Mills.