Survey: Digital amnesia is real

It’s not your imagination, remembering things in the age of the smartphone is harder, at least according to a study commissioned by online security company Kaspersky Labs.

In a survey of 6,000 adult Europeans, more than half of the respondents could remember childhoood phone numbers, but couldn’t remember their children’s phone numbers.

This varied across European countries, with some much worse than others, but the general trend stayed true.

The researchers concluded that the ability to store and look up numbers in our phones, something that wasn’t possible before, has degraded our ability to remember.

Dr Kathryn Mills, from University College London, said our reliance on, and trust in digital devices can resemble a human relationship.

“The feelings are established in the same way – through experience. Repeated experience with a reliable individual builds a ‘schema’ or association for that individual in our memory, telling us that this person can be depended on. If a digital device is continually reliable then we will build that into our schema of that device,” she said.

If phones are a surrogate memory, it’s not surprising that losing your device can cause so much stress.

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