Losing Your Memory? Stop Googling, Turn Off Your GPS and Stop Watching Violence on TV

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Some of today’s most popular technologies are making it easier to find what we’re looking for. They’re also making us forget what we’ve found, and perhaps everything else.
Two new studies show Google and GPS navigation systems may be bad for our memories.
In a paper published by Science magazine, researchers say Google has become a form of external memory for many people who feel there’s less reason to remember the information they’ve located via the search engine, because they can always find it again later.
“The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it,” wrote the researchers. “The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.”
With GPS, according to another group of researchers, people become accustomed to relying on the directional software and stop using spatial navigation which uses landmarks and visual cues that tell us where we are and how to get there again next time. 
You never know where research into memory will lead. In 1998, at a time when most Americans said there was too much violence on television, a study of its effects on memory found that viewing increased violence in commercials caused anger which in turn impaired memory of the commercials. The conclusion was that advertisers were going to shy away from violent television programming because “sponsoring violent programs might not be a profitable venture.”
Which is why we don’t have violence on television anymore.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Effects of Television Violence on Memory for Commercial Messages

(Brad J. Bushman, Iowa State University)


Leave a comment