Alert: Meta’s WhatsApp function that is stunting your memory

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The market for instant messaging apps is highly competitive, and WhatsApp has no plans to lag behind. After a series of server outages caused a small exodus among its users, the Meta ownership doubled down on its efforts to continue integrating features available in its competitors’ apps to retain its audience.

WhatsApp

In recent months, WhatsApp has introduced countless changes to its platform that have ranged from barely noticeable to severely significant. Between the announcement of its future Communities , the first shopping experience without leaving its application and its new “invisible mode” , the platform introduced a long-awaited function that could bring an unexpected consequence to its users.

It’s about audio acceleration , the update that finally allowed WhatsApp users to control the speed at which they listen to their voice notes. 1x speed is the standard speed, while 2x plays voice memos at twice the speed. Just by touching the audio icon we can change the different speeds.

The new feature was widely celebrated by WhatsApp users , who thanked the platform for helping them ” save time ” in their communication. However, what the speed of information really does is that you only keep the essential information . Although it seems that it is the most efficient way to listen to these voice notes, in reality we may be missing important information or details.

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WhatsApp is affecting the memory of young people

WhatsApp is affecting the memory of young people
The WhatsApp function that affects human memory.

Platforms like WhatsApp completely changed the way people communicate in just a few years; it is not strange to wonder if they are also affecting the way we think. According to a study published in Sage Journals , distractions through the use of the phone and applications such as WhatsApp were decreasing the so-called working memory .

Working memory, also called operative memory, should be understood as the set of structures and processes that allow animals to temporarily keep information active , enabling the processing and manipulation of these inputs when it is no longer accessible to the senses.

Students use working memory for a wide variety of tasks, including remembering names, numbers, complex sentences, and work instructions. The distractions and the “rush” in listening to the audios, according to the study, also decreased the effectiveness of learning .

Young people believe that they have the ability to perform different attention-demanding tasks in parallel , such as text message correspondence while studying; however, they would not be aware of the price they pay when their attention is divided. Although it seems, at first glance, that listening to the audio more quickly saves time, the reality is that it generates less understanding and less attention to subtleties and details , which leads to less understanding.

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