Childhood Memories

28 June 2020 • Memories

Childhood Memories

As a child raised in a family that moved around the world a lot, I was always annoyed that my brother could remember so much more about our childhood then me. He would tell long and funny stories of different people and occasions across the years which I couldn’t even remember let alone retell. And I wondered why. Why was he able to recollect so much of our childhood and me so little?

Childhood Memories

Why most people don’t recollect childhood memories 

Most of us don’t have any memories from the first three to four years of our lives. Although many adults remember some events from as early as three years of age, generally, we tend to remember very little of the details of life before the age of seven. Many adults who claim to remember back to times when they were very young are often unclear whether they are talking about a real memory or just recollections based on photos or stories told to them by others.

The phenomenon, known as “childhood amnesia,” has been puzzling psychologists for more than a century—and we still don’t fully understand it.

There are four main theories to explain childhood amnesia:

1. Concept of Self

Babies and young toddlers don’t have a solid concept of self. This makes it difficult for them to capture memories about the things around them. Knowing who you are apparently makes it easier to remember what other things are

2. Language

Babies and young children do not yet have a grasp on language. If we have a language to describe and label things, we are more easily able to remember them.  

3. Perspective

Babies and young toddlers see the world from a different perspective because of their size. As they grow up, the world appears different which makes them forget the earlier memories and capture new memories.

4. Physiology

Memory scientists maintain that as we grow, we develop lots of new nerve cells which then write over, wipe out or recycle the old nerve cells. When this happens, the memories associated with those cells are also wiped out. 

But what about my brother? 

So why can my brother remember our childhood so well? The answer is stories. Research suggests that parents who have conversations with their children and take time to recall and retell events in a story like narrative, increase the chances of remembering for that child….thanks Mum and Dad! The more coherent the story, the more the likelihood it will be remembered. Maori adults have the earliest childhood memories (age 2.5) of any society studied so far, thanks to Maori parents’ highly elaborative style of telling family stories.

The impact of social media to childhood memories (Will this help kids remember more?)

Memorialising our children’s childhoods has been a priority for all parents since forever. Nowadays, parents take millions of photographs and videos of their children every single day. Every event from birthdays to first steps, first haircuts, school assemblies and school plays are photographed, videoed, memorialised. As the world becomes a smaller place and families live away from grandparents and extended family, many of these photos are shared on social media platforms. 

While we laud the invention of these multiple social media platforms, these increases in communication and social connection may come at a cost. In a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers showed that those who documented and shared their experiences on social media formed less precise memories of those events. While enjoyment and engagement in the event was not impacted, participants in the test were shown to recall 10% less of the actual event on memory tests.

So, what does this mean for our children? They can watch video after video of their birthdays, school assemblies, friends’ sleepovers, plays and parties whenever they want. Will this mean they remember those events anymore. Research says yes and no. Yes, because the captured photographs and videos become a story of sorts for our children to recall the event. No because the recollection is, oftentimes, a recollection of the video that they have seen and not the actual event. 

Should you store your child’s photos for everyone to see?

Research says you should not. It’s an unpredictable world out there. People go onto social media with many different agendas. We owe it to our children to keep them safe physically and also to protect them on and from the internet. Cute photographs of babies and toddlers on social media can easily end up in the hands of unsavoury individuals with dangerous agendas. This could have repercussions on our children as they grow into adults and move into lives and careers of their own. It is important that we are certain of and secure in the online platforms that we choose to share our children’s childhood memories.

A safe and secure way to share the memories of your child.

What if we could create a page for our child that is only seen by close members of our family? With children growing up so quickly, family would welcome the opportunity to feel connected to their grandchild, niece or nephew who they might not be able to see on a regular basis. There are now options that provide this added security and privacy while helping to record the memories and stories of a young child growing up. Memories is one of these platforms offering a safe and secure page which allows the person creating the page to invite those that are close to the individual that the Memories Timeline is for.

So start a Memories Timeline and choose a more secure and private way to share memories of your child and provide that access to them when they are an adult for them to choose how they would like their photos to be shared with the general public.  

Childhood – A Poem by C.P. Sharma

Memories of childhood prattle sweet,

Strange, funny utterances incomplete;

Toddling walk on the faltering feet,

Falling down, the same to repeat.

The fondly fight among the siblings,

Pulling one another’s strings,

Shielding us to mom we cling,

Affectionately she sweet kisses flings.

Later through sweet sour we wade,

Asking mom for sweet lemonade;

Never bothered about sun and shade,

All the day with friends we played.

When came back in game hurt,

With all sort of soil on shirt;

Silently and stealthily came in home

Dad’s scolding on us large loom.

Passing away of grandpas

Of great grief it was a cause,

Of saving grace they were straws,

That day our grief we couldn’t gauze.

The memories of childhood sweet or sour,

Make a person bloom as crimson flower;

When I think of the affectionate bower,

I feel as fresh as if I just had a shower.

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