'Digital Amnesia' strikes cell phone users

'Digital Amnesia' strikes cell phone users
(Source: WOIO)

If you suddenly found yourself without your cell phone, how many phone numbers would you remember?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - As our phones do that kind of memory work for us, many are developing what's being called "digital amnesia."

"I have no idea what my wife's phone number is, I have to look under Amy," said Joe Wray of Cleveland.

"I can't tell you the last phone number I truly remembered," said Kris Stovall of Cleveland.

Wanda Melendez probably puts it best when asked if she thought she was capable of remembering a bunch of phone numbers.

"I doubt it, I think my mind, I have it so used to not worrying about that because my cell phone has it," Melendez said.

One European research firm defines "digital amnesia" as the experience of forgetting information that you trust to a digital device to store for you.

But, Dr. Brian Appleby of University Hospitals says it's not really all bad news.

As a geriatric psychologist, Dr. Appleby deals with matters of memory often and says the idea of using something else to store information goes back ages.

"This is not a novel concept. We have books, we have other information storage systems we've had for years and our memory is still fairly good," Appleby said.

What seems to really be happening is our memory priorities are changing with technology.

A study on "digital amnesia" by Kaspersky Labs shows that of the 6,000 surveyed, 33 percent do not know or have not memorized their partner's phone numbers.

About 51 percent don't know their own workplace phone numbers.

But it's actually another issue related to this phenomenon that Dr. Appleby warns about.

"I think perhaps the most concerning thing is attention span because in order to have a memory you have to be able to sustain the attention for a period of time for you to form that memory," Appleby said.

To help with that, he suggests talking to other people more, as opposed to isolating yourself in the digital world.

Also, participate in projects that require concentration, like reading and crossword puzzles.

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