Over-relying on search engines and computers is weakening people’s memory. A new study shows that reliance on technology is the sole reason why many people today have short memories and have trouble recalling important information such as their partner’s phone number.
In a new study by cyber security company Kaspersky, 6000 adults were polled on their use of computers to recall information. The adults were drawn from various countries in Europe including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The study revealed that up to one third of all adults would turn to computers first to recall important information. The study revealed that the UK was leading in the number of people who had to go online to remember basic information. More than half of the representative population opted to search for information online first.
According to the study, depending on the computer frequently had a negative long term impact on memory development. This is because the push-button information often can be immediately forgotten.
Dr. Maria Wimber, from the University of Birmingham said, “Our brain appears to strengthen a memory each time we recall it, and at the same time forget irrelevant memories that are distracting us.”
Wimber said the trend of looking things up online hindered the “build-up of long term memories.” She said that a better way to build long term memory was to recall information. “In contrast, passively repeating information, such as repeatedly looking it up on the internet, does not create a solid, lasting memory trace in the same way.”
Among the UK adults surveyed, only 45 percent could recall their phone numbers from way back when they were 10. Comparatively, only 29 percent remembered their own children’s numbers while just 43 percent remembered their work numbers.
With regard to remembering a partner’s number, the ability was lowest in the UK, with only 51 percent capable. In Italy, the figure was 80 percent.
The study results described the prevalence of what they called “digital amnesia” where people are okay with forgetting important information because it can be retrieved from a digital device.
While technology has made work easier for humans in this century, it is threatening to tear apart our natural capabilities. Only through making a sustained effort to remember important things, rather than leaning on our digital devices, can we regain our memories.