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Oh Great, Everyone Has "Digital Amnesia" Now

Quick! Do you know your work phone number without looking it up on your phone?

If so, then count yourself lucky because a new survey finds 39% of working Americans can't be bothered to remember their work phone numbers anymore!

It doesn't stop there: Slightly more than three-fourths (77%) can't remember the phone number of their child's school, while less than half can remember their closest friend's phone number. A full 40% of us can't remember our kids' phone numbers.

The good news? Roughly 71% of us can still remember our spouse's cell phone number.

These are among the findings of a new poll from internet security firm Kaspersky, which concludes that many of us have something called "digital amnesia." We're so used to letting our devices (or The Google, depending) store information for us that we're no longer committing anything to memory.

Hey, I should give you my phone number. Why don't I just send you a text? That way, you'll have it.

What's the problem with that, you ask? Technology makes our lives easier, you rotary phone-remembering Gen X geezer!

Sure, it does -- until we either lose, or break, our handheld devices. Then we're wandering aimlessly around a Dystopian digital landscape, wondering what so-and-so's phone number is so we can text her to say that we talked to the client. We could swear her phone number starts with a 5. It's 5-5-5...aaargh!

It's right there, on the proverbial tip of our tongues.

In fact, Kaspersky found more than 70% of us would feel "panicked" not only to lose our phones, but also to realize that we have to remember what's stored on our phones because, most likely, the information isn't stored anywhere else. And we never bothered to memorize the handful of most important numbers!

Gee, we'd let our teenage kids know we're running late to pick them up, but we can't remember their cell numbers.

By contrast, slightly more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed (67.4%) can still vividly remember their house phone number from their teenage years. Amazingly, it rolls right off our tongue as if it were only yesterday!

So what do these results mean for the average workplace?

Overall, we need to be more aware of our informational laziness and, for lack of a better phrase, smartphone dependency.

If our systems crashed today, which small subset of phone numbers and other digital addresses (workplace and otherwise) would we need to remember in order to function? We need to make sure we're still committing the most important data to memory***, or at least writing them down on scraps of paper that we immediately proceed to lose.

Yet, for more than 91% of those Kaspersky surveyed, the Internet is now the "online extension" of their brain. Why commit anything to memory when it's right there at our fingertips?

Just for fun, do a lightening round around the conference table. Let's call the game "What's My Cell Number?" Gaze upon a sea of frightened faces suddenly tasked with coughing up your phone coordinates on the spot. The game would be informative and fun, if not a little bit frightening.

Now imagine the lost productivity if they manage to lose their phones. Go ahead and call them on it. Wow, you've sure got their number, right?

*** It's okay to include the pizza guy on this list.


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