Smartphones & Toddler Self-Esteem

How many seconds does it take to snap that perfect selfie?

Our first answers might just be a few seconds, after all it just takes one moment to click that icon on our phones. Unfortunately, the real answer is a little unnerving and shocking. According to a recent study, sponsored by Dove, most girls spend an average of 12 minutes getting ready just for one selfie. We all want to look our best, but we need to consider that over the course of a lifetime the average person will take about one selfie per day, or 25,7000 to be a little more exact.

When we combine those findings, we quickly realize that in the end we will have wasted an exorbitant amount of time, over 200 days, making duck lips or posing in front of our smartphones. As parents, we might not take as many selfies or spend countless hours scrolling social media, but we do use our smartphones a lot. In fact, a Nielsen Company survey found that adults devote around 10 hours everyday to consuming media in some form. With numbers and statistics like those, it should come as no surprise that our children are starting to be affected by our smartphone usage.


When we consider how prevalent our smartphones and technologies are within our society, it should be no surprise that researchers and doctors are beginning to notice how our devices are hindering our parenting abilities. A study from Boston Medical Center observed families during mealtimes in popular eateries and found that close to 73 percent of the parents spent most of their time on their phones, practically ignoring their children.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, a leading psychologist and author, said it best,

“We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

We know children need face-to-face interactions to learn language, emotions, and bond with their caregivers, but our smartphones interfere with this connection. The distractive nature of our phones can unintentionally affect budding language and emotional growth in our kids. According to an article in Forbes magazine, our reliance on technology is also causing many of our boys and girls to develop feelings of anxiety or depression. This in turn, can directly influence our kids’ self esteem, development, and future relationships.


We need to take this data as a wake up call and step back from our phones and devices. If we are not mindful with our technology usage, it can derail our parenting and inadvertently harm our son’s and daughter’s self esteem. To reduce the impact of our smartphones, try the following suggestions:

  • Reclaim family time. Power down all devices during family meals, carpools, or play time. Take advantage of this time to connect and show our children that we care. This gesture, even if it is for only short intervals, will send our kids the message that they are important to us
  • Designate a set amount of time everyday to use social media, check emails, or text. Technology isn’t all bad, it does have a time and place in our lives and should be limited. If we set aside 30 minutes or an hour everyday, we can take care of business and check social media without compromising our children and families.
  • Set up one convenient area for storing and charging all devices when family members are home. This common drop area will keep us organized, beat temptations for mindlessly using our phones, and most importantly, allow us to be more present in our kids’ lives.


Even though most of us don’t often blink twice before we use our cell phones or gadgets in front of our children—we really should. Understanding how technology usage can negatively affect our kids is a vital first step in dealing with this pressing issue. We need to think twice before we snap that selfie or check social media when the children are present.

After all, we owe it to our children to provide the social interaction and engagement our kids need for success to the best of our ability. We don’t want to look back and realize we wasted the limited precious moments we are given with our little ones. As parents, we owe it to our children to teach the importance of personal relationships and that technology is just a tool, not a way of life.

How do you limit smartphone or technology use when you are around the family?

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. @AmyKWilliams1

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