What is the “Google Effect”?
Also known as digital amnesia, the Google effect has influenced the way we choose to store and remember information. We no longer feel the need to retain information we believe will be easily accessible online, instead all we need to remember is the website URL.
Ask yourself this:
When was the last time you forgot something and didn’t turn to Google, or some similar search engine, to find the answer? We all know that with a click of the mouse, just about any piece of information can be unearthed in a matter of seconds. And because we spend much of our time on computers and smartphones, this information is accessible to us whenever we want it.
These findings echo Columbia University Professor Betsy Sparrow‘s research on the Google Effect on memory, which concluded, “Our brains rely on the internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.”
She says technology “helps us live smarter” as we’re able to access answers. “Being able to create a well-formed question is an act of intelligence, as you quickly work out what information you want to extract and identify the app to help achieve this. To me, this suggests a level of engagement with the world that’s not about dumbness.” She gives the example of a new mother trying to work out whether their baby not sleeping is bad – and when to start worrying. “These are all questions that technology may be able to address quicker than calling your own parents,” she says. “This isn’t making consumers dumber, instead it’s helping them to think smarter.”
So we leave you with this question:
Is our reliance on search engines making it harder for us to remember information? Let us know what you think.