If someone asked you to recite your own mobile phone number you’d probably reel it off without having to flex your memory muscles too much.
However, try recalling anyone else’s number - those of your partner, parents or children, for example - and it’s likely you’ll come to an abrupt halt once you’ve said 07.
This is because, according to Kaspersky, we are now in an era of ‘digital amnesia’ in which we have become so reliant on technology to retain phone numbers that our brains are rapidly forgetting the skill.
Kaspersky surveyed 6,000 people aged 16 and older in six European countries and found that most can’t remember the phone numbers of their children (71 percent), children’s schools (87 percent), place of work (57 percent) or partner (49 percent).
However, 47 percent could still recall their home phone numbers when aged 10 and 15, showing that in the past we were better at remembering the key numbers in our lives.
There’s nothing wrong with letting a phone retain all your key data, of course, but if you lose the device, or it’s stolen, things suddenly get a lot worse.
Around 25 percent of women and 38 percent of younger respondents said they would 'panic' if they lost their device as it is the only place they store contact information.
It’s not just phone numbers that we’re struggling to recall, however. Those surveyed by Kaspersky worried that losing their phone, and all its stored videos and images of their lives, would cause them to forget what they’ve been up to.
Some 44 percent of women and 40 percent of 16 to 24 year-olds would be 'overwhelmed by sadness' since they have memories stored on their devices that they believe they might never get back.
Kaspersky drafted in an academic to back up the digital amnesia findings. Dr Kathryn Mills, from University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said that, while forgetting things isn’t bad in itself, it’s the knock-on effects that cause problems.
“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,” she said.
“Forgetting becomes unhelpful when it involves losing information that we need to remember.”
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