The average Brit forgets at least five things every day – thanks to technology.
A new study of 2,000 adults shows many are unable to remember passwords, phone numbers of family and friends and even how to spell certain words, because they rely on gadgets to do it for them.
Other things commonly forgotten as a result of our reliance on technology include how to write neatly and how to carry out basic calculations such as division and multiplication.
Technology was also cited as the reason for respondents forgetting good friends’ addresses, the stars of favourite movies and TV programmes, and even how to relax.
Incredibly, 13 per cent of adults don’t even know their own phone number.
The research was carried out by working animal charity SPANA ahead of World Animal Day.
Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, which provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries around the world, said: “They say elephants never forget, and in the animal kingdom there are certainly some extraordinary memory spans.
“People may be increasingly struggling to remember certain basic information these days.
“But we know that, for instance, donkeys can remember other donkeys and places they’ve been for up to 25 years, and elephants are able to identify at least 30 of their relatives and remember companions for around 22 years.”
Daniel C Richardson, Professor of Experimental Psychology at UCL said: “Technology has transformed how we store and access knowledge.
“How many of your friend’s and family’s phone numbers do you know from memory?
“If you had asked that question 20 years ago, most people would have been able to reel off a string of numbers.
“Indeed, those of over 40 might still remember the numbers of long departed ex-boyfriends or girlfriends.
“But today, most people rely on devices and the cloud to store, sync and deliver numbers to their fingertips.
“Similarly, if asked ‘who starred in the first Batman movie’, we can now look that up on a device as quickly as searching our own memories.”
The research found that, these days, adults find it more and more difficult to remember things like their bank account details, how to set the time on the clock in the car, or what time a TV programme is on.
Adults also can’t remember how to navigate basic routes as they rely on sat nav to do it for them, and people use the computer so often that many say they are forgetting how to write properly, how to post a letter or how to pronounce something.
Day to day, people are also finding it harder to recall other people’s birthdays, the time or location of events, and some even said they are forgetting the art of conversation.
Professor Richardson added: “It feels like there is a big difference between looking up information in your head, and looking it up on your phone.
“In one case we ‘know’ the information, and in the other we know how to find out.
“But some psychologists have argued that, in a sense, the brain doesn’t make such a sharp distinction.
“It’s called the ‘extended mind’ hypothesis, and argues that our brains have always worked to use the world around us as part of our cognitive processing.
“Think about doing arithmetic in school, and writing down all the steps of long division. Or playing Scrabble, and moving the letters round on your tray rather than juggling them in your head.
“In all these cases, your brain is leaving information ‘in the world’, rather than storing it ‘in the head’.
“So although technology has dramatically increased the volume of knowledge that we can store and access, it is not fundamentally changing how the brain works, some have argued.”
The study also found that six in 10 believe they often forget things because they have the option of searching online for what they need instead.
And more than a third agree they don’t need to remember anything, because their technology will do it for them.
As such, adults now make little effort to remember things like directions, facts about the world, special dates, recipes and appointments.
Geoffrey Dennis of SPANA added: “If you remember one thing this World Animal Day, please remember the working animals around the world that desperately need our help.
“Sadly, working animals in developing countries are all too often forgotten and overlooked.
“These hardworking horses, donkeys, elephants and camels play a vital role in supporting the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people.
“However, they rarely get the recognition they deserve.
“They work in extremely hard conditions, in most cases without the food, water, rest and vital veterinary treatment they urgently require.”
TOP 50 THINGS WE FORGET – DUE TO TECHNOLOGY
2. Phone numbers of family and friends
3. The spelling of certain words
4. Neat handwriting, as we never write anything down anymore
5. Long division, multiplication and calculation
6. Your own phone number
7. Who starred in a movie / television programme
8. Someone’s address
9. To relax
10. How to do nothing
12. Your bank account details
13. Someone’s name
14. How to find your way from A to B
15. What time a TV programme is on
16. How to read a map
17. How to write properly
18. How to do any DIY (as we just search online for tutorials now)
19. What time the local shop opens
20. How to set the clock in the car
21. The quickest way to get somewhere
22. How much you spent on something
23. The time or location of an event
24. How to take a proper photo (due to your camera’s auto-settings and filters)
25. How to pronounce something
26. How to give directions
27. The recipe for a favourite dish
28. How to compose a letter
29. To listen to someone
30. To post a letter
31. How to give first aid / treat an injury or illness
32. Your work address
33. How to write a cheque
34. How to simply wait for someone
35. How to read a manual
36. How to pay something in at the bank
37. To go to a doctor / dentist appointment
38. How to bake a cake
39. How to cook from scratch
40. How to manage your money
41. Your to-do list at work
42. How to have a conversation
43. To buy a lottery ticket
44. How to change clocks back/forward an hour
45. Turn the lights on/off in the car
46. When the children’s inset days, classes and appointments are
47. How to talk on the phone
48. To meet a friend
49. To put on the handbrake when borrowing someone’s car
50. Your own anniversary