Study: Internet, smartphones could cause ‘digital amnesia’

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study says smartphones and the Internet could be destroying our memories and giving us so-called “digital amnesia.”

The software security group, Kaspersky Lab, looked at 1,000 people and found many people don’t even attempt to memorize or recall information, they instead just turn to the Internet or their smartphone for the answers. The study suggests that could hurt people’s ability to use their memory at all.

About 91 percent of the people surveyed said they use the Internet as an online extension of their brain. Almost half of them said their smartphone serves as their memory — everything they need to recall, including phone numbers, is on it.

While many adults couldn’t remember important current phone numbers, a majority of adults could remember phone numbers from their childhood, suggesting their memories were better before smartphones.

24-Hour News 8 took this study to the director of the Healthy Aging Brain Center at Eskenazi Health. Dr. Malaz Boustani said if you don’t use your memory, it will get a little lazy. But he said there is no reason to panic. Dr. Boustani is not worried about the internet’s impact on the brain. He’s excited about it.

“I think you should start thinking about, how can I leverage the internet and devices even more to expand the opportunity of my brain? We are not using as much power of our brain as the potential of our brain, and I think the Internet can open a lot of doors for us,” said Dr. Boustani.

Dr. Boustani says at Eskenazi, he uses the Internet for brain exercises for patients who are at-risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Dr. Boustani said the Internet is actually presenting doctors with opportunities they’ve never had before.

Dr. Boustani said the Internet is actually more trustworthy than our brains. People may take medicines that cloud their thoughts, they could suffer a stroke or they could simply mix up their memories.

“A great example is the testimony of witnesses.That’s common that you can’t depend on a human to tell you the truth because they have so much filters that make it unreliable. What the Internet is teaching us, it’s really, it’s upgrading our most precious part of our brain,” said Dr. Boustani.

Many people in the study were so dependent on their devices, they went into a panic at the thought of losing them and the memories stored on them. The study also showed people aren’t doing much to protect their information online. Less than a third of the people surveyed put any security precautions on their devices.

Still, Dr. Boustani and other experts recommend securing devices and backing up personal information as a precaution. You can read the study for yourself here.

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