Is smartphone photography bad for memory?

This is interesting, though it seems like a small difference:

In a series of experiments, a few hundred participants took a self-guided tour through the church. On the tour, the participants were supposed to take note of details like “the cruciform shape of the church” and make sure they checked out the bronze angels that “greet you from the massive entry doors.”

Some of these participants had iPods equipped with cameras and were instructed to take photos (either to print out later or to post on Facebook). Other participants went in empty-handed.

A week after the tour, the participants were given a surprise quiz, with questions about details they should have learned on the tour. In one arm of the study, those without a camera got around 7 out of 10 questions right. Those who had a camera scored closer to 6. That’s like going from a C to a D, a small but significant difference.

“Just taking photos in general was enough to decrease scores on a memory test,” says Emma Templeton, a Dartmouth psychological researcher who was a co-author of the study.

Article: What smartphone photography is doing to our memories

Related: Forget in a Flash: A Further Investigation of the Photo-Taking-Impairment Effect

A photo-taking-impairment effect has been observed such that participants are less likely to remember objects they photograph than objects they only observe. According to the offloading hypothesis, taking photos allows people to offload organic memory onto the camera's prosthetic memory, which they can rely upon to “remember” for them. We tested this hypothesis by manipulating whether participants perceived photo-taking as capable of serving as a form of offloading. In Experiment 1, participants used the ephemeral photo application Snapchat. In Experiment 2, participants manually deleted photos after taking them. In both experiments, participants exhibited a significant photo-taking-impairment effect even though they did not expect to have access to the photos. In fact, the effect was just as large as when participants believed they would have access to the photos. These results suggest that offloading may not be the sole, or even primary, mechanism for the photo-taking-impairment effect.

More: Taking a photo of something impairs your memory of it, but the reasons remain largely mysterious

I bet drawing to remember later instead of taking photos wouldn’t hinder later memories. When you draw, you aren’t asking the camera to remember for you. It’s like doing a math problem on paper versus in your head or using a calculator.

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