Fourth Industrial Revolution

New research says internet use is killing your memory

A gamer wears headphones while playing a game at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn   (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) - GM1EA6B0IYN01

Daily use of the internet is altering the way our brain works. Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)

Dan Robitzski
Journalist, Futurism
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Internet of Things is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Internet of Things

Goldfish memory

We’ve all heard the old warning: staring at a screen all day will rot your brain. Though it’s not quite so dramatic, there may be some truth in the message after all — new research reveals that frequent internet use can change how our brains work.

That’s the main takeaway from new research by American, Australian, and European scientists who found that heavy internet users performed worse at memory tasks and are generally more readily distracted — a chilling sign that internet-native generations may be harmed by technology so ubiquitous that opting out is nearly unimaginable.

Neural priorities

The scientists put hundreds of participants through memory and cognitive tasks as well as brain scans, according to the research, published last month in the journal World Psychiatry.

Have you read?

Joseph Firth, the Western Sydney University scientist who led the project, described in a press release how the internet’s design is changing both the structure and abilities of the human brain.

The “limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention,” said Firth, “which then in turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task.”

Firth explained that having information available online whenever we need it could have changed the way our brains store information — there’s less of a need to remember things, after all, in a world of Google searches and Wikipedia.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Fourth Industrial RevolutionHealth and Healthcare Systems
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

EU falling short of digital transformation goals, new report finds

David Elliott

July 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum