Smartphones are ruining our memories

Details that were once easily remembered such as phone numbers and addresses are now commonly forgotten thanks to mobile devices and apps that store such information.

LukessCz / Pixabay

Details that were once easily remembered such as phone numbers and addresses are now commonly forgotten thanks to mobile devices and apps that store such information.

Jill Morton, Columnist

Over the past few years, I have noticed that I rely more and more on my smartphone for just about everything. There are so many convenient apps for anything and everything that you might need. If I lost my phone, I too would feel lost. I use it as my alarm clock, my to-do list, my address book, my photo album and pretty much everything that requires me to remember any piece of information. The main thing that I’ve noticed is how dependent we are on our electronic devices to remember all of the important parts of our lives 

My phone has sixteen gigabytes of possible memory storage, and that’s even less than a lot of newer phones on the market today. Our brains, on the other hand, have around a million gigabytes of memory, according to Scientific America. However, unlike a machine, you can’t just download information into your brain.  

To keep your memory sharp, you need to perform daily mental exercises. Today, with the technology that we have now, this is becoming more and more difficult.  

With our phones constantly within reach, we tend to rely on them more than our own brains in many situations. I think that this is truer for younger people who have had their phones for a larger percentage of their lives.   

According to Thrive Global, part of the reason this is the case is because we can’t form the best memories when we’re as constantly distracted because we simultaneously mindlessly check our devices. So, phones have not only become our main form of memorization throughout the day, but have also become so addictive that we can’t form strong memories in the first place. Essentially, the many tools that our phones provide are ultimately what make it detrimental to our mental fitness. 

I am a forgetful person and many assignments and appointments would have been missed if I didn’t have access to my cellphone. I have everything from daily pop-up notifications reminding me to attend meetings and even do chores around my apartment.  

Now, I have everyone’s phone numbers plugged into my phone and have not had a phone number memorized since back in middle school, when I could list off my home and best friends’ numbers from the top of my head. If I were to lose my phone today and had to contact even someone as close as my sister, I would have no way to call her.  

I’m not the only one in this situation. According to a recent survey by Cybersecurity Company Kaspersky Lab, 44 percent of the 1000 people surveyed between the ages of 16-55 said that they rely on their smartphones as their main source of memory. That is absurd because we shouldn’t stop utilizing our brains. Honestly, I do this too as well and to keep our minds sharp, we need to get out of this habit and start relying on our own memories.  

To keep it simple, we can simply start by learning and practicing long-term memorization. Like back in middle school, try using different methods to memorize your best friend’s phone number and dial it in when you need to call them. As you master all the important contacts in your life, try incorporating your brain’s capabilities in other parts of your daily life, like by memorizing your favorite recipes. Over time, we can start to overcome our over-reliance on technology, leading to improved mental health and confidence in our own brains’ abilities. 

Jill Morton is a columnist for Dakota Student. She can bee reached at [email protected].