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How many times do you use your mobile phone to remind you of a birthday or the date of an important event? It’s probably quite a lot isn’t it? Well don’t worry, because you’re not alone, as 79% of European adults are more reliant on digital devices to access information than they were five years ago.

A large majority of people are using mobiles, tablets, laptops and other technology as an extension of their memory, as enhanced features and functionality mean storing information is easier than ever before. A survey of 6, 000 consumers aged between 16 and 65 in six European countries has found that two thirds (63%) of adults believe their digital device helps them achieve more by keeping information digitally, freeing up more space in their brain to concrete on more important tasks.

Digital users trust their devices to remember information for them so completely, they no longer feel the need to remember it for themselves, according to the survey by Kaspersky Lab. Instead, half of users (53%) use the notes function on their phone to record and store information that they need to remember and nearly a third (30%) use devices for memory reinforcement by sending themselves emails and texts or adding information to an online calendar (32%).

David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab said: “Rather than being seen as a step into the unknown or something potentially negative, this increased reliance on technology means that people can in fact learn, remember, think and create more effectively. By offloading responsibility for remembering certain information to their devices, people can free their brains to deal with more important tasks and cope better with the sheer volume of data and information pushed our way.

“In this new way of operating, people tend to place increased trust in their devices to do things their brains don’t always have the capacity to do – such as prompting them to book or go to an appointment, renew subscriptions, record to-do lists, remember family and friends’ birthdays or calculate the fastest route from A to B.”

But what about security threats?

The majority (58%) of digital device users fail to use antivirus software and only 29% backup precious information that is stored on their devices, putting important memoires in jeopardy if they are lost or stolen, according to the survey. This is a large concerm as only 35% of over 35s worry about how much they rely on their devices, compared to 49% of younger respondents.

Mr Emm added: “Consumers must realise that alongside the many advantages of using digital devices to remember information, digitised thoughts can be lost, stolen or even hijacked by malicious third parties. We urge users to ensure they put in place effective levels of security to safeguard this vital digital data on which they now depend, or risk losing it forever.”

Digital devices as filing systems

Technology devices allow us to choose when we want to deal with the information we receive, ignoring certain things that we don’t want to see and storing other things away to retrieve them easily.

The research by Kaspersky Lab highlighted this, as 43% said they scan information received on their digital device as soon as it comes in, then return to it later when they have more time. Almost one in five (18%) don’t delete any information they receive via their device and only a quarter (25%) only delete things when their device tells them to, meaning information could be left on devices for quite some time.

It’s not just our memoires and how we store information day-to-day that is effected by our use of digital devices, it’s our health too. As warnings increase about the potential harmful effects of over-exposure to digital technology, 15 million internet users have actually taken a ‘digital detox’ in order to strike a technology balance, according to new research by Ofcom.

Dr Paul Marsden, research psychologist at London College of Fashion, said: “In our digitalised lives we use our memory differently. We seem to be remembering less information, but remembering more about how to find information.

“Instead of remembering who did what and when – something that Google does more admirably than us – we remember how to query Google to find out who did what and when. In other words, the digitalisation of memory means we’re becoming increasingly proficient in the valuable skill of navigating the ever-expanding info-sphere.”

He added: “Beyond this, the digitalisation of memory may have a decluttering effect on our minds, freeing us up to understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, instead of only the ‘what’.”