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How the Internet is ruining your memory

WASHINGTON POST – July 1, 2015

MindGamesWhen was the last time you memorized a phone number?

No really, think about it. Besides your own number, how many can you even remember by heart now?

It’s probably fewer than you’d like — and you’re not alone. Out of more than 1,000 American’s surveyed for a report from cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab released Wednesday, more than half said they couldn’t recall the phone numbers of their friends and neighbors. And 44 percent said they couldn’t remember their sibling’s numbers.

But why would they? What’s the point of filling your head with phone numbers if they’re all stored in a smartphone that’s with you almost all the time?

So instead, we’re replacing the ability to recall specifics with the certainty that we have them stored somewhere or can look them up online later — a sort of digital amnesia. In fact, more than 90 percent of those surveyed for the Kaspersky report agreed that “they use the Internet as an online extension of their brain.”

Of course, this isn’t just about phone numbers. Rote memorization was once a staple of modern education: Students were taught the names of the presidents in order and all the names of state capitals — or even to draw a map of the United States from memory . . . . . But now, that information is just a click or swipe away. And that’s making us worse at remembering things . . . . . .

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