Mobiles replacing memory for Brits

Updated: Jul 14, 2010, 17:33 PM IST

London: Millions of Brits are suffering from `numerical amnesia` as mobile phones increasingly replace memories to recall important numbers.

23 million(1) Britons can’t remember their partner’s mobile number off by heart, 30 million can’t recall their best friend’s number and 22 million forget their parents’ mobile number – causing worrying implications in the event of an emergency, according to the results of a new study released today by life assistance company CPP.

An online memory test, designed to assess the nation’s ability to recall sequences of numbers, reveals that four in five Brits cannot recall a mobile phone number after an interlude of only five seconds.

Landline numbers it seems however, are more ingrained with 92 per cent of adults able to recall their home number and 60 per cent their parents’.

Mobile reliance is causing phone users to worry about losing precious data if their handset is lost or stolen, with nearly two thirds (67 per cent) anxious about losing the numbers stored on their phones. Despite this less than half of Brits (43 per cent) back up their mobile phone numbers in a traditional address book, and just one in five (18 per cent) choose to store the data on their computers.

Michael Lynch from CPP warns consumers though that there’s much more at risk when losing a phone than just the data. “Brits’ inability to recall numbers of their nearest and dearest means that many could be in a very tricky and distressing situation if their phone is lost or stolen, if they have no idea how to contact someone for help. This shows us that mobiles have literally become people’s lifelines.

“Our research shows that people are so heavily reliant on their mobile phones, that they’d be lost without them. And even if not caught in an emergency situation, our research shows that four in 10 victims have admitted that they’ve lost contact with friends when they’ve lost or had their phones stolen.”

The research showed that while losing phone numbers is mobile users’ primary concern, four in 10 are also worried about losing precious photos taken on their handset and a third fear losing their text messages.

Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson comments on the impact of us needing to remember less and less information: “As technology gets more sophisticated, our own memories are on the decline as we increasingly rely on information stored on phones and online. While this reliance can be problematic if people are totally dependent on an external memory store that is lost or becomes temporarily unavailable, it can also affect an individual’s mental agility later in life. Like many other skills, memory needs exercising if the capacity is not to be lost."

The CPP study shows that it’s not just mobile phone numbers that we are failing to remember. Over half of UK adults (53 per cent) struggle to memorise their bank account number and 44 per cent can’t remember their national insurance number.
CPP’s PhoneSafe service provides a ‘back-up’ service for all customers to ensure that phone numbers, texts and photos are all safe and can be restored onto a new or loaned handset if the need ever arises.

Five top tips to remember numbers:

Step 1: Visualise the number – picture the numbers in your head. Think about what they would look like, what colour they would be, what they would look like on a business card or in your handwriting.

Step 2: Recite the number out loud. Recite the number three times right away, and again in one minute. Recite them every few minutes out loud. Even create rhythm in the sequence of numbers to the tune of a well-known song.

Step 3: Practise dialling the number. Move the fingers in the way in which it would be used to dial the number while reciting the number.

Step 4: Group the numbers together. The human mind naturally remembers numbers better in groups of three and four.

Step 5: Look for personal associations with the numbers. Associate numbers to birthdays, ages, pin numbers or other things that are personal to you. Your mind will recall the numbers when the association is thought up.

Bureau Report