Wednesday 17 January 2018

Camera phones are bad for our memories

Using a camera phone to take a 'selfie' with Pope Francis
Using a camera phone to take a 'selfie' with Pope Francis

Sarah Knapton

A US study has shown that taking lots of smartphone pictures of happy occasions rather than concentrating fully on the events in front of us is harming our ability to remember.

Dr Linda Henkel, from Fairfield University in Connecticut, described it as the "photo-taking impairment effect".

"People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them," she said.

"When people rely on technology to remember for them -- counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves -- it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences."


Dr Henkel and her team carried out an experiment in Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University to learn if taking pictures of exhibits was hindering the ability of visitors to remember what they saw.

The results showed that people were less accurate in recognising the objects they had photographed compared with those they had only looked at.

"In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them," said Dr Henkel.

A second study replicated these findings.

The study is published in the journal 'Psychological Science'.

Irish Independent

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