The average number of Google searches per day has grown from 9,800 in 1998 to over 4.7 trillion today. This may not be surprising, since we've all come to appreciate the thrill of instant information. But while it's certainly convenient to have the sum of all knowledge at our fingertips, studies show that the "Google effect" is changing the way we think.
Research have it that college students remembered less information when they knew they could easily access it later on the computer. With 49% of world population now toting around Google on their smart phones, researchers concluded that the effect is the same. We're relying on Google to store knowledge long-term, instead of our own brains.
Neuroimaging of frequent Internet users shows twice as much activity in the short term memory as sporadic users during online tasks. Basically, our brain is learning to disregard information found online, and this connection becomes stronger every time we experience it. So the more we use Google, the less likely we are to retain what we see.
Our brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking. We need these unique memories to understand and interact with the world around us. If we rely on Google to store our knowledge, we may be losing an important part of our identity.