The Rise of Digital Amnesia


BrainBAs we move further into the 21st century, the use of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices has increased exponentially. Many people no longer remember important information such as addresses, phone numbers, passwords and various other facts because their smartphone performs this task for them on an everyday basis.

The over-reliance of these devices as a substitute for good old fashioned memory is referred to as “digital amnesia” While being able to rely these devices is of great convenience to many of us, our dependency on them exposes our vulnerability in the case where these devices get lost, stolen or compromised.

There is an excellent article on the CBC website that highlights this point and provides reference to 2 studies. The first was done by polling firm, Opinion Matters, that did a survey of approximately 1,000 Americans aged 16 and over. The second study was done by polling firm Kaspersky that did a survey of approximately 6,000 Europeans also aged 16 and over.


Below are some of the findings:  (Source: CBC News)

  • Almost 40 per cent who responded to a question about their children’s phone numbers could not remember those numbers.
  • 77 per cent of those who responded to a question about their children’s schools could not remember the school phone number.
  • 39 per cent who responded to a question about their workplace could not remember their workplace number.
  • Less than half could remember a friend’s phone number

One of the findings that really highlighted the dependency on smartphones as a substitute for memory was the following:

Of those surveyed, 69.4 per cent had smartphones, and 44 per cent of respondents (63 per cent of smartphone owners) agreed with the statement: “My smartphone is my memory — almost everything I know is stored on it.”

According to polling firm Kaspersky, this over reliance on our devices is hindering some of our long term memory, as there is a strong tendency to look up information instead of trying to remember it.


Personally, I do think that this applies to me as I do fit into the group that reaches for their smartphone if I need to retrieve information such as addresses, phone numbers and passwords. In addition, I rely on my GPS and turn by turn instructions instead of maps and remembering directions.


Prior to the GPS being around, which now seems like two lifetimes ago, I do remember mapping my routes prior a road-trip and memorizing key aspects of it. These days it is as simple as just keying in the address and letting the GPS do the rest of the work.

There is no doubt that smartphones and other devices have made our lives a lot easier, but at the same time I do think we have become far too dependent on them.  Are you one of those that suffer from Digital Amnesia? We would love the hear your perspectives in the comments below.

Source: CBC News


Web99 enjoys tech and has tried smartphones on all the major platforms. Out of all devices he has tried, BlackBerry10 best fulfills his needs.