Do You Suffer From Digital Amnesia?


Do You Suffer From Digital Amnesia?

With smartphones, the Internet and Google, it’s easy to access information from anywhere, at any time. But what does this mean for our minds?

Can you remember your best friend’s cell phone number? What about a sibling’s? Are all of your appointments on your smartphone calendar? Are you constantly looking up addresses and directions?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may suffer from digital amnesia.

What is Digital Amnesia?

Kaspersky Lab, an international software security group, conducted a study to find out just how much we rely on devices to remember important information and what information we have forgotten as a result. The report defines digital amnesia as “the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.”

The study was conducted online among 1,000 Americans in May 2015. It found that digital amnesia affects men and women of all age groups and that 91% of respondents use the Internet as an extension of the brain. This statistic shows just how much we overwhelmingly rely on the Internet. Dr. Kathryn Mills from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London suggests that “in many societies, having access to the Internet feels as stable as having access to electricity or running water.”

It is no longer necessary to remember facts that we read online. We just need to remember where to find them. For example, when asked a question, about half of the study’s respondents turned to the Internet for the answer before trying anything else.

Because of this reliance on the Internet, it is easy to understand why we don’t feel the need to memorize the important information that is stored in our smartphones.

Other Interesting Stats

  • 67% of respondents could remember the phone number to the house they lived in at age 15
  • 69% could remember their partner or spouse’s phone number
  • 68% knew their parents’ phone number
  • 44% couldn’t call their siblings
  • 51% didn’t know a friend’s phone number
  • 70% couldn’t reach a neighbor

Losing Your Memory (Or Your Phone)

Almost half of individuals surveyed store all the information they need to access and remember on their smartphone. So, you can only imagine their panic when this information goes missing. The following diagram shows the statistics:


Interestingly enough, only one in three individuals installs extra security on their smartphone, despite the fact that phones house so much vital information. This is where Kaspersky Lab throws in a reminder that you can purchase products from them to protect your information, so it’s important to keep in mind this report was conducted as a marketing strategy.

Long Term Implications

No one truly knows what this means for the future, but individuals such as David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, say we must take time to understand the long term implications for how we remember and how we protect those memories.

Dr. Gayatri Devi, a Neurologist at Atlanta Health Hospital told ABC News “the problem with this kind of digital outsourcing of our memory is that it prevents us from learning how to remember, and it allows us to forget things more quickly.”

Can our brains actually forget how to remember? Only time (and maybe our smartphones) will tell.