We might think that internet is the biggest boon to mankind. With the advent of internet, there has been a massive technological evolution in the field of education, learning and research. With newer learning tools, online apps and easy access to information, it may appear that internet has empowered us in every way. However, researchers have found that too much reliance on internet is bad for human memory. In an article published in the journal “Memory”, researchers have mentioned that relying on things like the internet triggers “Cognitive Offloading”, a behavioural tendency that makes us go back to the internet after each use, thus hindering our brain’s natural ability to process, analyse and recall information.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, in the United States, conducted experiments to determine our likelihood to reach for gadgets to find information. They have found that excess use of internet leads to a tendency where we rely more on the internet and less on our very own memory and problem solving abilities. Participants in the experiment were divided into two groups to answer some challenging trivia questions – one group used their memory, while the other used Google. The results revealed that those who previously used internet tools like Google were more likely to revert to google rather than spend time consulting their own memory.
According to researcher and author Dr. Benjamin Storm, “As we use the internet to support and extend our memory, we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don’t bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives.”
As we are rapidly advancing towards an age of internet dependency, it is to be seen if our future generations are at risk of poor brain functionality, especially with respect to concentration and memory. With other researches in the past also revealing similar findings like atrophy of grey matter, structural brain changes and functional impairments from internet addiction, it is becoming more and more obvious that internet is indeed changing the way our brain functions and we may be heading towards a future where the shrinking human brain capacity could be taken over by technology and internet.