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Is Technology Ruining Your Memory? How to Overcome Digital Amnesia


Do you struggle to recall information that you can easily access on your smartphone or Google? It’s great that the Internet lets you access almost all the information you need at the click of a button. However, there is also a downside: you could be at risk of falling prey to digital amnesia.

Let’s explore what digital amnesia is and how you can overcome it.

What Is Digital Amnesia?

So, you are about to submit your assignment, and you want to use that handy keyboard shortcut for quick access to a document. The problem is, you’ve forgotten it, even though you used it earlier.

There’s no need to worry or try to remember when you can just Google it!

The issue is when it seems to have evaporated again from your brain when you need it a little while later. It gets even worse when you forget what you are searching for online.

Digital amnesia describes the inability to remember information that you can easily access through your smart devices. The term is the subject of a study by Kaspersky Lab on the effects of digital devices and the Internet on our ability to recall information.

Also called the Google effect, digital amnesia can be caused by an over-reliance on technology, especially the Internet. When you immediately turn to Google for answers, you are not giving your brain a chance to process and remember information that might be in your memory.


When your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to remember important details, you may find yourself at a higher risk of forgetting them. Over time, this may contribute to a decline in your cognitive abilities.

Causes and Dangers of Digital Amnesia

A man with a hand on his head

There are many reasons to rely on Internet-enabled devices as your external memory, chief among them being that it is more efficient.

Every day, you are exposed to a great deal of valuable information, so it makes sense to offload bits of it from your brain onto your device to free up your memory for new information. And why won’t you do that when you can rely on it being there whenever you need it?

For example, memorizing all the unique passwords to your accounts and services would be incredibly difficult. Instead, you can rely on a password manager and save your cognitive resources for something more important.

Alas, the unintended side effects of this may be causing you to forget information that you would want to recall offhand, especially when you don’t have access to your devices. For instance, what would you do in an emergency if your phone’s battery is dead, and you can’t call anyone because you don’t have any phone number in your memory?

What if you can’t recall what you studied on the day of your exam, or, worse, if you forget that it’s your spouse’s birthday?

How To Overcome Digital Amnesia

When it comes to overcoming digital amnesia, the most important step is recognizing that there’s a greater chance you’ll forget information that’s readily available online. Next, focus on identifying situations when it’s not worth depending on your smart devices as your external storage. In these cases, memorize the information instead.

Here are some tips and tools to help you overcome digital amnesia:

1. Pause and Think

A man thinking

Don’t just grab your phone and start Googling things right away. Before reaching out to your smart devices, pause and try to recall the information yourself.

This is especially true of information that you know is already stored in your brain. Your brain is an extremely powerful storage device, so you should take advantage of that and make it a habit to exercise your memory muscles.

2. Simplify Your Digital Life

We are constantly surrounded by digital devices and information. There’s no denying that these solutions are handy. However, digital clutter can take a toll on your mental health and productivity.

Simplifying your digital life can help you overcome digital amnesia. Clean out the apps you’re not using, unsubscribe from newsletters you never open, and limit notifications on your devices. In short, do away with anything that’s not absolutely necessary.

3. Practice Mindfulness

A man practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being aware of your thoughts, actions, and surroundings. Practicing mindfulness through meditation can help strengthen your memory because it encourages you to focus on one thing at a time for an extended period.

It also empowers you to be in control, which will help you resist the urge to overly depend on your digital devices.

If you don’t know how to start, you can use tools like 1 Giant Mind and Insight Timer. You can also engage in mindfulness exercises that involve writing down your thoughts, such as keeping a gratitude journal.

4. Exercise Your Memory

In addition to practicing mindfulness, you should also exercise your memory. This will ensure that you can always recall the information you need when it counts. With regular practice, you can improve your recall ability, which will help enhance your overall cognitive performance.

For example, playing brain training games like Peak and Luminosity will challenge your brain power and can help keep you sharp, reducing the need to rely on search engines for the information you can quickly recall.

5. Take Care of Yourself

A man exercising

Getting enough sleep, exercising, drinking enough water, and good nutrition are essential for maintaining your brain’s overall health. Taking care of your body will ensure that it functions at optimum levels, which is vital for recalling information quickly.

Make it a habit to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, eat nutrient-dense foods, stay hydrated throughout the day, and get your body moving to combat a sedentary lifestyle.

6. Take Care of Your Devices

Now, there will still be times when you need to rely on your devices for information. There’s no need for you to memorize every phone number on your contact list, all your passwords, and every item on your to-do list.

However, you should make sure you can rely on your devices to access information when you need it.

Update your devices regularly, back up important files on services like Google Drive, and use tools that protect your devices against malware.

Maintain a Healthy Balance Between Memory and Data

In some situations, it’s more effective to rely on technology; in others, you’re better off using your own memory. The goal is to strike a healthy balance between using your devices and keeping your memory sharp.

Technology has its place, but you don’t want it to encroach on your mental abilities. In the end, technology is just a tool, and its effectiveness, or lack thereof, largely depends on how you use it. You just need to be in control and mindful.

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