Gen Z students are considered a generation of "retrievers" of information. It's because of technology. They can look up anything, hence they don't need to remember as much as we did before the advent of the internet and cell phones. They don't have to listen as carefully, because they assume they can go back and find what they need. They take pictures of things as reminders, too - or screenshots. If we consider the brain a muscle, technology is depriving it of the daily workouts it needs to stay as fit as possible.
It's all super fast, super easy and unfortunately, NOT the way college learning works. If 30% of college students drop out in their first year, and time management is one of the primary issues, why aren't we talking more about memory? Why are students struggling with getting their college work done now more than ever before?
It's fairly simple - you can't manage your time when you aren't fully aware of all you have to do. One of the simplest ways to improve memory is to write things down. One of the simplest ways to do well in school is to write down your work in a paper planner. Why? It's active, not passive. Writing by hand activates your brain. Seeing what you write further imprints on your memory.
Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and clinical professor at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health, has published over 20 books on the brain and his latest focuses on "working memory" which falls between immediate recall and long-term memory, and is tied to intelligence, concentration and achievement. According to Dr. Restak, this is the most critical type of memory, and exercises to strengthen it should be practiced daily.
And while there are 3 "sins of memory," the first being inattention, the second two are directly related to technology.
"First is what he calls “technological distortion.” Storing everything on your phone means that “you don’t know it,” Dr. Restak said, which can erode our own mental abilities. “Why bother to focus, concentrate and apply effort to visualize something when a cellphone camera can do all the work for you?” he wrote.
The second way our relationship with technology is detrimental for memory is because it often takes our focus away from the task at hand. “In our day, the greatest impediment of memory is distraction,” Dr. Restak wrote. As many of these tools have been designed with the aim of addicting the person using them, and, as a result, we are often distracted by them. People today can check their email while streaming Netflix, talking with a friend or walking down the street. All of this impedes our ability to focus on the present moment, which is critical for encoding memories."