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Why are we addicted to Google?

Google is slowly replacing books as our primary source of information. It’s quick, easy and most importantly, free. Answers to almost any questions can be obtained in a matter of few clicks. And, now, you can even use your voice to ask questions to Google. So all you need to do is click and start talking and Google will do the rest for you.

It’s not just about finding information. Thanks to the Internet, we don’t even need to remember birthdays, phone numbers, directions, addresses! We have a found a repository where we can easily store some key information. It saves us the effort and the anxiety of remembering important details.

The more we seek and store information outside ourselves, the more we tend to use. That’s how our brains are wired, isn’t it?  We can become very reliant on a particular method of accessing information and solving problems. A similar force is at play while we attempt to look for information using the Internet. The more positive results we get out it, the more we use.

Isn’t that why Google changes it algorithm? To keep giving us the most pertinent and latest answers, to keep us glued to it?

Internet, a memory partner

Here’s a research paper on that — how using the Internet to access information influences a person’s propensity to use it again to access other information? Or, in simple terms, what makes us go back to Internet for most of our queries?

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign conducted an experiment to find if there’s any scientific evidence to suggest that we actually do that.

Participants were divided into two groups to answer some challenging trivia questions. One group used just their memory, the other used Google. They were then given the option of answering subsequent easier questions by the method of their choice. What happened next?

Yes, you guessed it right.

Results of the study

Participants instructed to answer questions with the help of the Internet were significantly more likely to answer a new, relatively easier, set of questions with the help of the Internet.

Another interesting finding was that people who were asked to answer the first set using the Internet were quicker to pressing the mouse or keyboard to begin a Google Search for the second question.

The second one provides a fascinating insight. Though difficult to generalise, it is safe to say that the Internet provides a faster, quicker and easier way to our answers. And, that makes us go back to it again, even if we have alternative sources of information.

Lead author Dr. Benjamin Storm commented, “Memory is changing. Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don’t bother.”

“As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives.”

Reference(s):

Using the Internet to access information inflates future use of the Internet to access other information; Benjamin C. Storm, Sean M. Stone & Aaron S. Benjamin; published by Taylor & Francis.

Read the full article online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09658211.2016.1210171

 

 

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