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Memory strain a by-product of hi-tech age

Keeping in touch has never been easier - or more exhausting. The average person now has more than seven points of contact including landline phone, mobile, email and online social networks to remember, a survey has found.

Instant communications break down barriers and make the world a smaller place, but also take up increasing amounts of time as people feel obliged to check a bewildering array of voicemails, inboxes and profile pages, usually each requiring a password.

"I can have a conversation that starts on Twitter, then leads to an email, then a Facebook group, then maybe a phone call and a physical meeting," said Bill Thompson, a technology critic and blogger. "There's going to be a new conversational etiquette, based around embracing complexity."

There are on average 7.2 different ways of contacting a person, such as a landline, mobile phone, Skype account and multiple email addresses, social networking profiles and instant message accounts, according to a survey of 1,600 adults commissioned by Telnic.

Thirty per cent of those surveyed do not have their own phone number committed to memory. In the era of speed dial, 55% do not know their partner's phone number, and 42% are unaware of their parents' number. And one in 10 do not know any numbers at all, creating a potential headache if they should lose their handset.

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