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Forgetting something? The Internet could be to blame
New research highlights the role "digital amnesia" plays in our modern world. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
According to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of American adults now use the Internet, up from 52 percent in 2000. The popularity of the web has changed the way people live and, as new research highlights, the information they remember.

Kaspersky Lab, an online security company, released a report this week on "digital amnesia," or the way the Internet affects people's memory. Researchers found that people readily admit their dependence on digital devices, choosing to store phone numbers and easy-to-find trivia answers online rather than work to memorize them.

"Almost all (91.2 percent) of those surveyed agreed that they use the Internet as an online extension of their brain," Kaspersky Lab reported.

The research confirms a common criticism of the digital age namely, that it allows people to slack on learning basic facts.

Various studies have also shown that the Internet overwhelms the brain with distractions, making it harder to perform everyday tasks, as The Huffington Post reported in 2013.

However, some believe even digital amnesia can be viewed in a more positive light.

For example, author Clive Thompson penned his book "Smarter Than You Think," released in 2013, about how taking advantage of computers' limitless memory paves the way to a more intelligent world.

"We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt learning to use the new and retaining what is good of the old," his website notes.

In an analysis of the digital amnesia study for The Washington Post, technology reporter Andrea Peterson noted that relying on machines to store memories makes sense for trivial information. But being lazy with more significant events can come with major consequences.

"There are risks to this brave new world of memory outsourcing beyond losing our ability to recall who the 15th president was," Peterson wrote. "The kind of information may always be a click away, but the important things the personal things, like the way your mom smiled at your wedding you want to remember might be harder to recall or find online."

She continued, "If you're relying on your own archive of pictures or documents to keep track of those memories, the consequences of a lost, stolen or hacked hard drive are much more meaningful."
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