Are We Suffering From Digital Amnesia?

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jul 02, 2015

digital amnesia

Researchers have warned that we are increasingly forgetting information - as we have been over dependent on our smartphones and the Internet. A new study done by Kaspersky Lab suggests that while connected devices enrich our lives, they have also given rise to a state called ‘digital amnesia’ an experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you. 

According to experts, The shift to cloud computing has, in part, encouraged the flood of personal data and therein too lies the danger of so-called “digital amnesia. As according to Steve Grobman, an Intel security architecture engineer. People are entrusting massive amounts of valuable data to Facebook, Google, Flickr, WordPress and other social media sites. Without a rigorous digital backup plan, all that personal content could dissolve into a black hole never to be seen again.

“One day it could all disappear because these companies are not obligated to give back all of your content if for some reason they fold,” said Grobman. “This becomes critical as the amount of data we’re creating is growing exponentially.”

The results reveal that the ‘Google Effect’ is likely to extend beyond online facts to include important personal information, researchers wrote in the report. 

Key findings from the study include:

• An overwhelming number of consumers can easily admit their dependency on the Internet and devices as a tool for remembering. Almost all (91.2%) of those surveyed agreed that they use the Internet as an online extension of their brain. Almost half (44.0%) also admit that their smartphone serves as their memory–everything they need to recall and want to have easy access to is all on it.

• In addition, many consumers are happy to forget, or risk forgetting information they can easily find–or find again- nline. When faced with a question, half of U.S. consumers would turn to the Internet before trying to remember and 28.9% would forget an online fact as soon as they had used it.

• Although dependence on devices appears high, when asked, most participants could phone the house they lived in at 15 (67.4%) as well as their partners (69.7%), children (34.5%), and place of work (45.4%). They could not however call their siblings (44.2%), friends (51.4%), or neighbors (70.0%) without first looking up the number.

• Contrary to general assumptions, Digital Amnesia is not only affecting younger digital natives–the study found that it was equally and some times more prevalent in older age groups.

• The loss or compromise of data stored on digital devices, and smartphones in particular, would cause immense distress, particularly among women and people under 35. More than half of women (51.0%) and almost the same number of 25 to 34 year-olds (48.6%) say it would fill them with sadness, since there are memories stored on their connected devices that they would never get back. However, it caused the even younger participants the most fear. One in four women (27.1%) and 35.0% of respondents age 16 to 24 say they would panic: their devices are the only place they store images and contact information.

• Worryingly, despite this growing reliance on connected devices, the study found that consumers across America are failing to adequately protect them with IT security. Just one in three (30.5%) installs extra IT security, such as an anti-virus software solution on their smartphone and one in five (20.7%) adds any security to their tablet. 28.0% doesn’t protect any of their devices with additional security.

“One of the reasons consumers might be less worried about remembering information is because they have connected devices they trust,” said Kathryn Mills of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, which conducted the study.

David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab states it is important that we understand the long-term implications of this for how we remember and how we protect (our) memories.”