When we take pictures of special moments and events in our lives, we are hoping to preserve those memories for a long time. But now, researchers have found that the excessive use of smartphones to capture and share pictures not only takes some of the pleasure out of our experiences, but also alters the way that we remember them.
Social media is undoubtedly the driving force behind a growing obsession with sharing, and often oversharing, images of our daily lives with others. A team of experts set out to investigate how social media use may affect or even change the experiences that we share online.
The researchers developed an experiment in which participants were instructed to take a self-guided tour of a church. Some individuals were given iPods to take pictures throughout the tour, while others were asked to simply take notes along the way without using any media.
After the fact, the participants were given an unexpected memory test and asked to report about their levels of engagement and enjoyment during the tour.
“Across three studies, participants without media consistently remembered their experience more precisely than participants who used media,” wrote the study authors.
Emma Templeton is a researcher at Dartmouth College and the lead author of the study. She explained that smartphones have now become a “giant source of distraction” in our lives.
According to the experts, using a smartphone takes us out of the moment and ultimately changes the way we remember what has happened in our own lives.
The researchers concluded: “Together, these findings suggest that using media may prevent people from remembering the very events they are attempting to preserve.”
The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.