I was recently privileged enough to accompany a school on a trip to Warwick Castle. This was actually a trip I had made when I was their age, but there was one obvious difference: camera phones. When I went for the first time camera phones had only just been released and if anyone actually had one they certainly wouldn't have been allowed to bring it. This time, everyone (literally) had one. Therefore they didn't so much as look around the castle as photograph it. Every feature of the castle walls, waxworks, swords and bushes had to be documented, from every angle. To be honest they should just have turned the video recorder on and sellotaped the phone to their forehead, although of course this would have ruled out the possibility of 'selfies'.
Now I should hope that they will still have learnt a significant amount about castles and they will obviously be able to have another look by browsing their numerous snaps, but I imagine their memory of the day will be significantly diminished because they never actually experienced the castle itself. They were so busy photographing it, or photographing each other in front of it, that they never actually looked at the castle itself, or spent time imagining what it would be like to have lived there hundreds of years ago. Now a few photographs are alright to jog your memory, I took a few myself, but if all you do is take pictures you won't have a memory to jog!
The most ridiculous moment, for me, came at lunch when we went to watch a falconer put on a fantastic display with two amazing birds of prey, including a majestic Bald Eagle.
The kids, of course, watched the whole thing through their phone screens, except when a peacock came wandering around behind them. As one the cameras swung round, like the paparazzi when a superstar appears, to this relatively boring event (the peacock didn't even have his tail feathers up). It wasn't really the fact that it was a peacock that made them turn round, merely that here was something new for them to photograph. I wonder what effect this will have, as we continue to engross ourselves in the digital world and lose sight of the real one right before our eyes.