With people becoming more and more attached to their smartphones, the risk of digital amnesia increases. Are there ways to improve your memory naturally? Find out here.
Digital amnesia, defined
Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, coined the term “digital amnesia” after conducting an online survey involving 1,000 American consumers ages 16 to 55. The results of the survey showed that:
- 2 percent of participants considered the internet as an “extension of their brain.”
- 44 percent trusted that their smartphones had everything they wanted to know and needed to remember.
- Half of the subjects used the internet before trying to remember things on their own.
- Many participants were happy to forget information that they believed they could easily access using their connected devices.
Based on these results, Kaspersky explained that someone has digital amnesia if they forget information and trust a gadget to store and recall it for them. Though digital amnesia has yet to be scientifically recognized as a medical condition, cognitive researchers (scientists who study how our brains work) agree that it’s a possible threat to human memory.
The effects of digital amnesia
Before we explain why digital amnesia is a threat to natural human memory, let’s first talk about why it can also be beneficial.
For starters, digital amnesia can be a good way to perform “directed forgetting.” It’s a phenomenon wherein we off-load irrelevant or outdated information and make room for pertinent or new data. A European survey exhibited this when 64 percent of the participants mentioned that using their devices to remember information means that they could focus on other things instead.
However, when we rely too much on our connected devices to recall and store information, our brain’s neuroplasticity may become stagnant. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form or rearrange connections in response to learning or experiencing new things.
With decreased neuroplasticity, we may suffer from:
- Reduced ability to recover from brain injuries
- Learning difficulties
- Reduced memory functions
Digital amnesia is also associated with smartphone addiction, which often results in distractions that lead to significant memory loss and an inability to form long-term memory. Moreover, people who have smartphone addiction might suffer from sleep deprivation, which makes the brain “sluggish.”
7 ways to improve memory naturally
Given that digital amnesia can negatively impact how our brains store and manage information, what are some ways that we can naturally improve our memory function?
Learn new things
As mentioned earlier, neuroplasticity improves as we learn and experience new things. Don’t hesitate to train your brain with puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku or enrolling in a class or short course (such as art classes and book clubs) that keeps your mind active.
Other activities, like working on a new hobby or training for sports, also form and rearrange brain connections because they keep you mentally active.
Keep in touch with friends and family
Various studies show that people who stay connected with others perform better in memory tests. Furthermore, doctors emphasize that socializing reduces the risk of stress and depression, both of which negatively affect memory functions.
Use your senses
One of the ways to improve your memory naturally is to use your senses when you learn new things.
In one study, the researchers showed emotionally neutral images, each presented with a specific smell, to participants. Later on, the subjects were shown another set of photos and were asked to point out the pictures they’ve seen before. Results showed that they quickly recalled odor-paired images, especially those presented with a pleasant smell.
During the study, brain scans revealed that using the senses increases the number of parts of the brain involved in the act of remembering. So, why not challenge your senses as you learn new things? Some of the things you can do are guessing the ingredients in a new dish, sculpting ceramics, and walking while recalling information.
Distractions make it hard for us to remember things, so limit them by getting organized. Refrain from using your smartphones and other devices. Instead, take advantage of physical notepads, calendars, file folders, maps, and address books.
It’ll also help to designate or assign places for essential objects such as your eyeglasses, car keys, and purse. This way, you encourage your brain to remember where you put them.
Commit things to memory
One of the reasons digital amnesia happens is that we dismiss information that we can recover with a few clicks. In other words, we do not even try to remember things.
Help yourself remember by committing important information to memory. Whenever you need to recall a particular detail, take the time to repeat the information to yourself. Use clues and mnemonics to help you.
Resist the urge to look things up
One of the best ways to improve your memory naturally is to resist the urge to look things up when you need to remember them.
Before you reach for your smartphones, try to recall the information first. Give yourself a time limit. For example, only look things up after 5 minutes of actively trying to remember the details.
Stay physically healthy
Finally, to improve memory naturally, you need to stay physically healthy. Get adequate rest and sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Avoiding alcohol and substance abuse and managing any existing health conditions also help.
Staying physically healthy prevents mental health problems that affect memory, such as depression, stress, anxiety, and panic attacks.
If you have concerns about your memory or if your memory loss seems to worsen and interrupt your daily routine, set an appointment with your doctor.
Learn more about Healthy Mind here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.