10/02/2014 10:42 GMT | Updated 12/04/2014 06:59 BST

Are We Stealing Our Children's Memories?

I don't remember much from being a kid, but the stuff I do remember I remember quite fondly. I remember eating lots of potato and baked beans. I remember spud guns. I remember Chuckie Egg. I remember Star Wars toys (before my mum made us sell them). I remember bounce bouncers. I remember the joy of finding a shiny when opening up a pack of stickers. I remember Guess Who. I remember the Raccoons. I remember standing in the rain, opening my mouth wide and looking to the sky safe in the knowledge that someone nearby would be saying "Urghh, acid rain!" And I have a few other memories which I think I only remember because I have seen photos of it... like being trapped in a car surrounded by evil geese, spending every summer naked in a paddling pool and going to meet baby sister in hospital. I know these things happened but any 'real' memory I may have had has been eroded away by the memory given to me by the photograph I've seen a thousand times.

And this got me thinking - are my children going to have a real memory of anything? Whenever anything vaguely interesting happens I whip out my iPhone and take a photo. Or ten. If need be a quick swipe and I'm taking a video of them. It doesn't matter what they are doing I have a digital record of it. I do it without thinking. The other day Iris picked up a bowl of chocolate and smeared it over her face - I needed to do two things. Firstly tell her that it was not best table etiquette and certainly not the behaviour of a young lady. And secondly I needed to clear her up before she covered us all. But instead I took a photo of her, just because I could, and completely reinforced in her one year old brain that this was good behaviour.


Or when Anna turned around and I realised she had drawn a moustache on herself with a Sharpie. Did I tell her off? Did I immediately take her off to the bathroom to wash her face? Or did I take a shot and post it online for the world to see?


I've just checked and on my laptop are 7169 photos taken by me and Carolyn since October 2010 when Anna was born. Now I haven't checked but I would hazard a guess that about 7 of them are exclusively of me or Carolyn. And the other 7162 have either Anna or Iris in. That's just under 6 photos every day since Anna was born. Assuming she is asleep for 12 hours a day then every other waking hour since she was born I have taken a photo. What is this going to do to them?

The girls are going to be full of false memories. Or are the girls going to be full of my memories? Is that the problem? They are going to grow up remembering my view of things. They aren't going to remember building a den in the garden; they are going to remember sitting on the patio watching children play under a sheet.


They aren't going to remember the fun week camping, playing in the rain and almost being blown away whilst trying to fly a kite. They are going to remember sitting in their pyjamas looking out at some tents.


They aren't going to remember the many many times they were taken to singing and music groups. They are going to remember that they were once made to dress up as a lion and a zebra in a village hall.


They aren't going to remember the scooter they were bought for their third birthday. They are going to remember that they were once taken out looking like Pat Butcher on speed.

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe they will actually just have a lovely record of their childhood. Maybe I'll get a virus on the computer and lose all the photos and won't have to worry about it anymore. Maybe I'll stop photographing every moment and we will look back on it as a phase. Or perhaps by the time they are 18 there will be just almost 40000 photos which they will have no time to look at at all. I'll stop worrying. It's been an hour, I'd better go and photograph one of them.