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Study: Most Americans suffer from ‘Digital Amnesia’

Across the United States, the study shows that an overwhelming number of consumers can easily admit their dependency on the Internet and devices as a tool for remembering. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON — Quick: What’s your aunt’s cellphone number? Or your best friend’s from college?

Better yet, tell us what you did on Monday? You may have a tough time remembering because the Internet is wrecking your memory. That’s according to a new study from Kaspersky Lab, which finds Americans can’t commit data to memory because the answers are just a click away.

The lab calls it “Digital Amnesia” — the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.

“The results reveal that the ‘Google Effect’ likely extends beyond online facts to include important personal information,” researchers wrote in the report. “Many consumers are happy to forget, or risk forgetting, information they can easily find — or find again online.”

For instance, people 45 and older are more likely to get answers from the Web, then write the fact down or choose to forget it once they’ve used it, the survey found.

Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said they use the Internet as an online extension of their brain. Forty-four percent said their smartphone serves as their memory; everything they need to remember is right there in their pocket.

“In many societies, having access to the Internet feels as stable as having access to electricity or running water,” says Dr. Kathryn Mills, with the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

“It would be interesting to explore further whether individuals in places where the Internet is unreliable feel greater need to remember contact details or facts, or have a different perspective on information access.”

Read the full study here.

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