The prevalence of social media use in daily life is increasing; however, little is known about its cognitive costs and/or benefits. Social media use may help to offload memory to an external resource as well as to facilitate social relations, which could bolster or hinder everyday memory. Further, the relationship between social media use and memory may be moderated by age such that associations-whether positive or negative-could be exacerbated among older adults due to age-related declines.
Using an 8-day daily diary study from the Midlife in the United States Refresher cohort (n = 782, 25-75 years), multilevel models examined the impact of daily social media use, age, and their interaction on same-day and next-day memory failures.
The concurrent model revealed that on days when social media use was high, individuals reported more memory failures. The lagged model further revealed that higher previous-day social media use was associated with more memory failures on the subsequent day, controlling for previous-day memory failures. These effects were not moderated by age. Post hoc analyses revealed no evidence of reverse-causation as previous-day memory failures did not predict next-day social media use.
Although past research has consistently shown that social engagement is a protective resource for memory, social media use may be a risk factor for memory failures for adults of any age. These findings highlight the growing importance of understanding the implications of social media use.