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How All Those Pics Might Be Affecting Kids’ Memories

Written by Liz Kerins Pacheco

Photography by Photo Via Written by Resh

These days, we’re all at least a little bit guilty when it comes to excessive picture taking. With a good camera always on hand (hello, smartphone), it’s easy to capture your favorite moments while on the go. But when pressed to find that sweet shot where your son looks just like his dad or the one of your niece and nephew playing side by side, you might be scrolling for some time. So many photos go unprinted and some are forgotten altogether!

When faced with the idea that photos of our most recorded moments (think: birthday parties, school plays, etc.) have the potential to hold more than our memories can naturally contain, one curious New York Times reporter set out to explore the effect photos and videos have on the way we remember.

In the intriguing piece, one psychology professor discusses the idea of “photo-taking impairment effect,” in which participants in a study had clearer recollections of moments that they did not photograph. Once the camera came out, folks counted on it to do the remembering for them. Which raises the question: What will you remember better—Baby’s first camera-free wobbly steps and giggles in your dimly-lit front hall or the way that he so seriously set his foot in the image that you carefully edited and shared with all of your friends?

Then again, photos do jog happy memories, serving as “memory-retrieval tools” as the article states. Take that grainy holiday shot of you and your siblings grinning widely near the tree. Does it remind you of cozy Christmas mornings as a kid? Do you remember the best gift you received that year? Picturing yourself as a child can almost always evoke some sort of feeling—whether it’s fond reminiscence or cringing over your most awkward teenage days!

What do you think? Are you worried about the possible harm of over-documenting your kids? Are there days when the camera doesn’t leave your hand? Or do you intentionally keep it tucked away on some family outings? As with most things in life, it’s all about balance, right?

You can read the full New York Times article here.

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