10 Simple Strategies to Overcome the Google Effect

The Google Effect also known as Digital Amnesia has gotten a lot of attention in the press lately as researchers explore the negative effects of the tech revolution.  The idea behind it is simple since information is so readily available it reduces the desire to remember things.  This phenomenon is making us dumber in two dangerous ways.

  • Subconsciously our brains disregard information because it doesn’t think we need to remember things that are easily accessible.
  • Consciously we develop the mentality that we don’t need to learn things because we can just look them up when we need them.

This article written by Genevieve Roberts entitled Google Effect: is technology making us stupid? explains in more detail the leading theories and research on the relationship between technology and our brain.  The research was originally conducted by a collection of academic professionals from three prestigious universities and echoed in 2015 by a Kaspersky Survey of 6000 international participants.

One thing that I realized is that it not only applies to “Google” it applies to the digital age as a whole.  Digital Amnesia is rampant among the many forms of information uploaded to our electronic world.  Our entire lives are on our cell phones and we do everything over the internet now.

This lack of real knowledge if left unchecked can cause major problems.  Some of us have suffered the loss of a cell phone, but that hails in comparison to real threats to our technological world including terrorism, e-bombs, war, hackers, solar flares, extreme weather, and blackouts.

The good news is we can counteract the damage that the digital age is doing to our brains. The very existence of technology is the cause of the Google Effect, but unless you are John or Sarah Connor you’re not going to initiate the downfall of technology.  If we can’t remove it from our lives then what can we do to neutralize it?  Learn from it.

The first thing you need to understand about overcoming the Google Effect is that only you can choose the path to being smarter.  The unlimited number of options to spend your time is incredible and it’s up to you to keep the pleasurable time wasters to a minimum.  Do Candy Crush and Facebook stalking really make a positive difference in your life?  Smartphones will only make you smarter if you decide that you want to be a better person.

This website is centered on the use of technology’s massive power.  However, the pursuit of my blog is to harness the power of the internet and download it onto your mind.  The following ten tips are focused on creating habits that put necessary knowledge back into your brain so that when you need it you know it by heart.

  • Instead of relying on your contacts to call people look up the number and use the keypad to dial it. Memorizing the phone numbers of your loved ones can come in handy if you’re stuck in jail and only get one phone call.
  • Use your GPS to study the route you need to take and understand the layout of the city. That way if you need to give directions you understand where you are.  It is also safer than looking down at the map if you don’t understand what Siri is telling you.
  • If you can’t remember something and get the urge to look it up on the internet try to think about it first. See if you can answer your own question by reasoning it out.  Challenging your brain is one of the best ways to improve a memory.
  • When you do need to look up a fact to feed your curiosity make it a point to read the whole article. Elaborating on the details of the topic will strengthen the memory circuits in your brain.
  • When you read an article you find useful, try to internalize the information by participating in the comments. Making associations and engaging in conversation will help keep the information relevant to you so when you can use it you remember it.  Commenting on articles also provide the opportunity to get email updates on the conversation to further keep it fresh.
  • When you come across things that you think your friends and family will also enjoy, write a summary of what you’ve read and share it on social media. Summarizing information helps consolidate the level of understanding, making it harder to forget.  By the way, sharing smart articles makes you look smart.
  • Information fades out of memory easily regardless of how well you learned it. Spaced repetition is a technique that reintroduces information just when you are about to forget it.  Eidetic (apple only) and AnkiDroid (Android Only) are the best apps available that allow you to save the information you find on to it and set it up to be relearned later.
  • The ease of taking pictures on your smartphone is an amazing way to keep a record of memories, but don’t forget to back them up somewhere. It is too easy to lose your phone and all the data that is already lost to Digital Amnesia.
  • Taking pictures isn’t enough. Without the need to get your pictures developed they may remain on the cloud collecting digital dust.  Walgreens and SnapFish are super easy ways to get pictures printed at a reasonable rate.  Put them up on your wall and make albums so you can go back and remember your memories.
  • Calculators are common, but if you can do calculations mentally it’s easier and faster than finding one. Math is everywhere whether you like it or not and learning how to do it in your head makes you highly intelligent.  This article has everything you need to know to Become a Human Calculator.

I don’t believe we need to reject technology to protect ourselves against the Google Effect, but we need to use it to educate ourselves in case we can’t rely on it anymore.  Use the information at your disposal to make yourself smarter and the Google Effect will not affect you.

Follow my blog on social media to continue to use technology to beat the Google effect.  I would love to hear how you are using technology to make yourself smarter.

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