How Social Media Affects One’s Memory

I found an article on a website called, “Association for Psychological Science” that wrote about a study on this certain topic. The article was labeled “How Social Media Is Hurting Your Memory.” This article explained that they had people watch TED talks or went on self guided tours of a church on Stanford University’s campus. While doing so, they were asked to take pictures, share it on social media, or reflect internally on their experience, but they were told to not save any of this media. After they went through either the TED talk or tour they were asked to then tell, “How much they enjoyed the experience, how much they maintained focus or if their mind wandered”, and then they were asked to take a quiz to test their memory.

After the individuals running the study took in the results it showed that sharing experiences on social media did not sway how much enjoyment they had or how engaged they were. On the other hand, the participants that had to write down, record or share their experiences had a performance of 10% less on the memory tests.

This past summer I went to multiple country concerts at the same concert venue. There were two things that never changed the entire time; the stage was always in the same place and people always had their phones out. They were either recording the artist that was singing or taking pictures with their friends that attended it with them. I am guilty of doing this as well. The first thing I want to do at the concert when I finally get settled in is get someone to take a picture of all of my friends and I. The entire concert all I saw were camera flashes and intoxicated people falling everywhere. After putting it that way it does not make sense why I kept going to them.

When I would get back home my parents would always ask me how it was. Every single time I would be asked that I would always respond with it was good or something along those lines. I would never have much detail to share with them other than the big picture things including the amount of people, the artists that performed, and who I went with. I could never think of the other things that were smaller in a sense like the songs that were played, who else I saw there other then the people I went with, or even if I could hear the music clearly. I was so worried about getting pictures and videos to show off to my friends on social media that I was distracted the whole time and I didn’t even realize it.

After reading through the article I have a better understanding of why I could never recall any of those smaller details. If I could change anything about the study, I would have implemented a concert- like experience. This would have changed the study because the social atmosphere at a concert, or similar event, could have swayed the results even more. Or is my experience unique to me? I would be interested to see the results of a study like that because it would be more relevant and relatable to my life.

Walker Chilton

4 thoughts on “How Social Media Affects One’s Memory

  1. slevendo

    This is really interesting! I am also guilty of living in the moment through taking pictures and videos at major events. You feel almost like an outsider if you’re not recording or taking pictures of a performance, such as a concert. Socitey today has put so much focus on trying to capture every moment we can with our phones and not actually being present within the moment. It is interesting that we want to remember everything about a performance, so we record it but later on we cannot recall details about it.

    1. wchilton Post author

      I completely agree with the part you said about feeling like an outsider. It feels almost like you have to take pictures and videos because you feel like you have to be able to show off your experience later on whatever social media platform you use. The part about being present in the moment was accurate as well. When you are trying to get pictures and videos of your experience its almost as if you were just there to do that and not the actual in person experience.

  2. scampbellharris

    I have thought about this a lot in my own life. I too will go to an event and record it, but not be able to describe it. I think it puts us in a difficult spot. You want to capture everything to remember later, but you also feel like you should be in the moment. I’ve tried doing both, and just like in my daily life, I can’t seem to just take the phone out of my hand.

    1. wchilton Post author

      That is a good point you made about not being able to take your phone out of your hand. As a whole it is obvious that everyone in today’s society has become highly dependent on their smart phones. I feel like I can’t go anywhere without having mine with me.

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