Effects of Social Media Photography on Memory




Berry, Blake

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As social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat become more pervasive, we see more people sharing photos of experiences and updating friends on life events through digital platforms. Despite this increased presence of social media in our lives, little research has been published on the effects that social media photography can have on people. A particular area of concern is how this photography affects our minds. With this project, I explore how social media photography, posting, and reviewing of photos affect memory. I synthesize the results of many peer-reviewed articles published since 2005 that study the effects of social media photography on memory, and I suggest some best practices for people to use when engaging with social media in order to avoid hampering memory. Based on this literature review, I propose future work in the field that may help us better understand the complex and wide-ranging effects of social media—and images in particular—on our memories. Results have shown that specific processes seen in social media photography have interesting effects on memory. One of these processes is cognitive offloading, which occurs when a person does not have to store information in their own memory because it is reliably stored somewhere else, such as in a photograph. Distraction also plays a large role in affecting memory, as one’s emotions, circumstances, and method of photography can all distract from the present experience. New findings show that point-of-view changes memory as we are adopting a third-person perspective in memories due to social media photography instead of the traditional first-person view because of our obsession with self-presentation. The complicated interactions between these processes and their effects reveal that some social media practices can improve memory of events, while many others are detrimental to memory formation.


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