Smartphone addiction could impair our brain’s ability to retain new information and form new memories
Psychologists have maintained for long that stress can cause amnesia or affect the memory adversely. But that is not the only reason. Excessive use of mobile phones, apparently, can cause memory loss in humans.
When cyber security company Kaspersky Lab conducted a survey of 6,000 mobile phone users, it found that 71 per cent of them can’t remember the phone numbers of their children and 87 per cent can’t recollect the phone numbers of their children’s schools. According to some of the respondents, losing their Smartphone will cause them to forget what they’ve been up to.
Welcome to the era of ‘digital amnesia’ where our brains are fast losing their ability to remember as we become increasingly reliant on technology to retain data.
Link between Smartphone and memory loss
Distraction is one of the key factors that make memories more difficult to form. When we are busy multitasking on our Smartphones and quickly looking for information in multiple apps and notifications, we are only half-focused on learning a new skill. Hence, the information is unlikely to get stored in our long-term memory.
Smartphone addiction can interrupt sleep. We need deep sleep to detoxify our brain. It is only when we are in deep sleep that the brain engages in synaptic pruning—making room for new information by pruning old information. When we have interrupted sleep, synaptic pruning cannot take place, thus, impairing our ability to retain new information and form new memories.
Not just sleep, increased screen time also reduces our IQ significantly, according to the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London.
Memory loss in teenagers
Increasing exposure to mobile devices negatively affects the figural memory of adolescents, revealed a recent study by the researchers at Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). Figural memory, which helps us make sense of images, patterns and shapes, is located in the right hemisphere of the brain. Hence, teenagers, who hold their phone next to their right ear, are the most affected.
The researchers, who did this study on 700 teenagers, claim that a young developing brain is more susceptible to phone-wave-induced changes up to 15 years of age. They found that on an average, a teen is exposed to 858 mJ/kg of radiation per day when their average call time is 10.6 minutes.
How to overcome digital amnesia?
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.