Why Selfies Could be Bad for your Child

toddler in shopping cart playing on a cell phone

We’re living in the “Age of Selfies.” Every generation establishes a new peak of narcissism and self-absorption. Each time it happens we’re momentarily shocked at our own self-centeredness, but then it becomes standard. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and smartphone “selfies” are merely our generation’s continuation of this innate narcissism.

The “selfie” trend, however, is spreading rapidly. Not just among different people, but across age groups—all the way down to toddlers now. The question is…is this an adorable little habit or is setting children off on a trajectory of self-obsession?

What’s the Danger?

Psychology professor Brandi Koskie has come up with a few reasons why the selfie/smartphone obsession might be bad for a toddler. One general reason is an age-old one: too much of a fun thing can be a bad thing. Also, Koskie isn’t just theorizing. She has a 3-year-old daughter—Paisley—who often takes command of Koskie’s smartphone to snap up to 90 selfies.

 Toddlers seeing images of themselves is an important part of development. It enables them to construct the idea of the “self.” Sure, there’s the possibility that children constantly taking selfies may become self-absorbed, but they can just as easily keep looking at themselves in the mirror.

Instead, the problem that psychologists have gravitated towards is the gratification. Shooting tons and tons of videos and pictures, and then playing them back, then reshooting, and continuing this process could be detrimental.

The reason this could be bad centers on the instant gratification. Instilling in children this expectation of immediate results—of immediate answers to their demands—may become a major stumbling block in their social development. If not kept in check, it could become a very difficult quality of their personality to overcome.


Basically, psychologists’ worries are not new. Their reasoning is the same as when parents are told not to give in to their kicking and screaming child who wants a candy bar while in line at the cash register. Giving in only reinforces the child’s belief that their behavior is not only acceptable but effective.

The difference is that with selfies, smartphones, and tablets, the behavioral impact is more subtle. It’s quite a different thing for a parent to acquiesce in allowing their child to watch a video they just shot on an iPhone than it is to give up and buy them an expensive toy. Also, since the smartphone tech is so new—often only as old as the 3-year-old who’s obsessed with it—there hasn’t been enough time to study the technology’s effect.


Dr. Sam Sadati is the owner and practitioner of The Sadati Center of Aesthetic Dentistry in West Palm Beach and a leader in the world of cosmetic dentistry and smile design. He is the only accredited cosmetic dentist in all of South Florida and is one of only forty dentists in the world to receive an Accredited Fellow honor from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).  Apart from creating beautiful smiles, Dr. Sadati enjoys photography, travel, and the opportunity to tell a good joke.  If you have a question or comment, dental-related or otherwise, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. We always reply to our fans and followers!