Kaspersky, a company specializing in software security, has released a report claiming the existence of the ‘Google Effect’ or, as they like to call it, ‘Digital Amnesia’.

They define Digital Amnesia as the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.

The research

In order to prove the existence of this phenomenon, Kaspersky commissioned an Opinion Matters survey of 1,000 US consumers aged 16 and up.

[blockquote author=”Kaspersky Lab”]The results suggest a direct link between data available at the click of a button and a failure to commit that data to memory. Kaspersky Lab has termed this phenomenon Digital Amnesia: the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.[/blockquote]

In a lengthy report containing a bunch of percentages, Kaspersky concludes that too many people tdigital-amnesia-figuresrust their electronic devices with all of their information without protecting that information.


Kaspersky, as a software security company, is more worried that consumers aren’t running some sort of anti-virus/anti-malware software on their smartphones and computers. Heh, go figure.

For those worried about the security of their smartphones, I recommend you check out Benton’s article about the iOS v Android security debate.

The most profound thing I found in this study was the Google Effect. While we all knew it was happening subconsciously, there is something about it being a proven fact that makes it even more worrisome.

[row][double_paragraph]Kaspersky’s survey revealed that people are getting lazy and letting their minds go a little. The brain is just like any other muscle in your body. You have to use it in order to gain or maintain strength.

Professional opinions

If you don’t utilize your memory, links will weaken and your memory will get worse over time. If you actively recall information, your memory will strengthen and be there for you when you need it.

Dr. Maria Wimber argues that by passively repeating information, looking things up on the internet instead of recalling information previously learned, will result in shallow, moment to moment memory.

By not actively recalling information, we are unable to develop long-term memory. Instead, we will have to resort to looking up the information every time as we will no longer be able to retain the information for extended periods of time.

[/double_paragraph][double_paragraph] [blockquote author=”Dr Maria Wimber, Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham”] Past research has repeatedly demonstrated that actively recalling information is a very efficient way to create a permanent memory. In contrast, passively repeating information (e.g. by repeatedly looking it up on the Internet) does not create a solid, lasting memory trace in the same way.[/blockquote] [/double_paragraph] [/row]

“The act of forgetting is not inherently a bad thing. We are beautifully adaptive creatures, and we don’t remember everything because it is not to our advantage to do so! Forgetting becomes unhelpful when it involves losing information that we need to remember. The act of memorization is a skill, and its importance as one the tools in our cognitive toolkit is dependent on how relevant memorization is for us to effectively navigate our world. In other words: being able to memorize is an important skill to have only if we need it.” Dr Kathryn Mills, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

The statistics

Kaspersky’s report details the various methods used in order to gain information.



In an unsurprising surprising twist, 50% of the people asked said that they were most likely to search online in order to find information leaving 39.3% to actually try to recall the information first.

This goes to show how much we depend on the internet and mobile devices for knowledge.



Even more solidifying the fact that we are overdependent on our electronic devices, 24.9% of people admit that they would panic if they were to lose access to the data stored on their devices. However, 22.7% of people claim that they would be able to remain calm in such a situation because they have enough of their information memorized.

There are some other stats like how 67.4% of people could call the number of the house they lived in when they were 15, but only 44.2% of people could call their siblings without having to look up the number.

I must admit that I cannot call my house from when I was 15, but I have a pretty good excuse for that. I didn’t have a home phone to call!


Kaspersky’s take away from this survey was that more people need to protect their digital memories with security software. I largely disagree.

The dangers of the Google Effect or Digital Amnesia are way more pressing than the dangers of not having security software on electronic devices.

There is a very real possible future where people can’t remember anything. Everyone will be running around with Google Glass variants that have facial recognition software that will alert the wearer of the name of the person they are talking to.

We should be trying to prevent the Google Effect, not make sure that our memories are safe in a machine. I believe that the best course of action would be to slowly rely less on technology.

Instead of using your contact list to quick dial your sister, try to manually input the number to see if you remember it.

It might take a little longer, but I feel like the extra time is worth the saved memory capabilities.

Source: Kaspersky via: Information Week

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