You'd think instant access to unlimited '90s movie references would make you smarter, but it turns out your inclination to just search for what you can't remember could be bad for your brain.
A recent study conducted by Opinion Matters and released by cybersecurity outfit Kaspersky Lab finds that reliance on search engines -- or "just googling it" -- hampers the ability to remember information. The firm went so far as to dub the phenomenon as "Digital Amnesia," or when your dumb ass forgets something because you've relied on digital devices to remember for you. For example, how many of your friends' phone numbers can you recite? Exactly.
Researchers focused on a group of 6,000 European men and women over the age of 16 who were surveyed earlier this year. They found what could be a direct link between your ability to easily access information online and your failure to remember it. In fact, a third of the people surveyed said they're willing to forget information they could find again via search. The study lists several additional key findings; for example:
- Over a third (36%) of the people said they would rather turn to the Internet when faced with a question than try to remember the answer on their own.
- The majority said they'd have to first look up phone numbers to reach their children or workplace, and a third said they'd need to look up their partners' number.
- About a quarter of respondents forgot information they found online as soon as they were done with it.
- Older age groups were affected by the so-called Digital Amnesia just as much, if not more, than younger people.
- Many in the group said losing the data on their devices would make them sad and 38% said it would make them panic.
So... how scared should we be?
“The overall trend seems worrying to some degree," Dr. Maria Wimber, Lecturer, School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, said in the study. "In contrast to general knowledge that will always be retrievable from the internet, personal information seems indeed very vulnerable if it is stored solely on one electronic device, and if this device is used as a replacement for our autobiographical memory."
Wait a minute. Is this all to say that technology has made our brains obsolete? Maybe. What were we talking about again?
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and, admittedly, only knows like three phone numbers by heart, which is pretty damn scary. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.