Digital amnesia: How do technologies affect our brain?

Electronic devices have become an essential tool for human beings. However, because of this, many people no longer care about remembering the information stored within them. After all, they are just a “click” away from us.

We are moving towards a world of digital synergy , where humans and their devices work together . Thanks to these gadgets, people can evolve , learn , remember , think and create more effectively . But because of this, many people no longer worry about remembering phone numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, or important dates . After all, that kind of information is just a “ click ” away from our mobile phone .

This phenomenon has been called “ digital amnesia ” and is the experience of forgetting information by storing it on a digital device in order to remember it . Although digital amnesia has not yet been recognized as a disease , scientists agree that relying less on the mind results in fewer neural connections in the brain, stalling its development. 

Likewise, recent research found that human brains do not typically process information from search engines , such as Google , as they are known to be easily accessible and retrievable and therefore people don’t bother to learn it. In fact, people are more likely to remember how to access such information , such as a keyword for a search engine query, than the information itself.

Presumably, with the access we have at our fingertips today thanks to devices, we have forgotten how to retrieve information from memory , although it is also likely that we have “more room” to be more creative . According to several researchers, the reliance on devices to store and remember information, such as phone numbers, dates and passwords, is helping to free up the brain to allow it to retain longer-lasting memories and improve analytical and creative thinking .

Are we too dependent on technology?

A couple using a PEXELS mobile phone 08/22/2022

A couple using a PEXELS mobile phone 08/22/2022 PHOTO: PEXELS PEXELS

In today’s society, where Twitter , Facebook and other social networks have become the quintessential way of communicating, memory has become a social cognitive phenomenon in which our devices allow us to be more connected with acquaintances , friends and family..As a result, we process information in a way that we couldn’t before the advent of phones. Through interaction with others, we exercise our brains and those memories have more meaning .and they are built and encoded in our minds, which is the opposite of what we usually do when it comes to studying . Most students read the material over and over to retain the information , however, by doing so, they do not gain the structure they need to create meaningful links to the knowledge base they already have. As a consequence, the information is easily forgotten when it comes time for the exam. Therefore, one of the best ways to study information is to test yourself beforehand, in order to create those meaningful links with memories .

The study

Teenagers with mobile phones at the Estanque del Retiro in Madrid.

Teenagers with mobile phones  PHOTO: Alberto R. Roldan The Reason

Conducted by Dr. Esther Kang at the Faculty of Administration, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne , Germany , the study was published in the psychology journal ” Applied “. Describing her study, Kang said that Internet access has offered “easy access to information” and has impacted users’ attention and knowledge management . She added that having information at your fingertips through electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, often diminishes recall and reduces attention. “When information stored externally is easily accessible and retrievable,” she said, people tend not to process the information too much, since they can easily search for it when needed. That is, they have an inherent inclination to avoid any cognitive effort , probably out of sheer laziness.

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