6 Signs You May Suffer From 'Digital Amnesia'

Reliance on using digital devices to store info may be making us forget things: study
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 1:38 PM CDT
Can't. Remember. Best friend's. Number.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Are you suffering from the "Google Effect"? According to a Kaspersky Lab survey of 1,000 consumers ages 16 and older, no age group is immune to what's also known as "digital amnesia," a phenomenon that Kaspersky says occurs when we forget information because we've entrusted so much of it to be stored on our digital devices. And a full 91% of those surveyed admitted to using the Internet and digital devices as "an extension of their brain." Some other signs your memories may be caught in an e-world limbo:

  • Pretty much everything you need to remember is stored on your smartphone. Nearly half of respondents (44%) copped to this, especially those in the 16-44 age bracket.
  • You feel like you have too many email addresses, passwords, phone numbers, etc., to keep track of. More than 85% are similarly overwhelmed.

  • You feel blue or panicky when you think about losing the info on your device. More than half (51%) of the women surveyed and nearly half of 25- to 34-year-olds (48.6%) say that "it would fill them with sadness," while 35% of the younger set (16 to 24) would be gripped by sheer panic.
  • You can remember your phone number from when you were in high school, but not those of the people in your life now. About 67% of those surveyed recall their home phone number at age 15, but not the current ones of their siblings (44.2% couldn't recall this), friends (51.4%), and neighbors (70%). But 69.7% could remember their partner's numbers, so there's that.
  • You automatically go online to get answers to questions. About 45% of 16- to 24-year-olds do, as well as an even higher number of those in the 55-plus set (52.9%). The majority (61%) of those surveyed also agreed it wasn't necessary to remember these facts afterward—just where they found them online.
Not that all of this forgetting is a bad thing. "We are beautifully adaptive creatures and we don't remember everything because it is not to our advantage to do so," says a doctor with the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in a press release. "Forgetting becomes unhelpful when it involves losing information that we need to remember." Check out the complete survey here. (Read more amnesia stories.)

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