Your Instagram addiction is actually good for your memory

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  • But everything in small doses

    Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

    We usually hear that social media is terrible for our health, and in particular that Instagram could be making you a jealous person. For those of us that spend more time on the platform than the average person, it’s not entirely inspiring.

    However, there are finally some positive stats to prop up your dedication to creating the perfect feed.

    A study published in Psychological Science shows that taking a photograph actually helps you to remember events better, making Instagram much more than just another social media platform.

    The study asked 294 people to take a tour around a museum, looking at artefacts while listening to an audio guide. Of those involved in the study, half were given cameras and asked to take a minimum of ten photos. When the tour was finished, all the participants were asked multiple choice questions about the artefacts they had seen.

    The results were fascinating. The participants who took the photographs recognised 7% more objects than those who didn’t, suggesting that recording moments on camera actually aids memory.

    However, one of the study’s lead researchers, Dr. Kristin Diehl, considers that previous studies that have found the opposite. They suggest that when we take photos we’re more likely to forget those moments thanks to something known as ‘cognitive unloading’, which essentially means that we no longer need to rely on our brains to keep hold of the memory as we know we have it backed up in photo form.

    She said: ‘These findings contribute to a larger debate about whether or not taking photographs enhances our experiences or distracts us from them.’

    It also points out that while we are preoccupied with taking a photo, we are not completely tapped into our other senses meaning we could lose information elsewhere. The participants in the study who used their cameras my have more visual memory, but they missed moments from the audio guide as a result.

    Diehl said: ‘While we generally tend to place more value on our sense of sight than our sense of hearing, studies have shown that auditory processing is important for cognition — especially when it comes to learning and remembering the order and timing of information.’

    So while taking photos and popping them on Instagram might help you remember events better, make sure you’re not phubbing someone while you’re doing it.

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