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Smart Toddlers

The smartphone has become an essential part of our daily lives. But up to now, little is known about how smartphone use affects the parent-child relationship in early childhood. The Smart Toddlers research study aims to generate new findings on this question.

A longitudinal observational study

In this research study we are surveying/observing 140 families, of which approximately 100 families were surveyed in a previous study, Smart Start, on parents’ smartphone use before/after the birth of their first child. This follow-up study, Smart Toddlers, looks at parents’ smartphone use starting at the child’s first birthday, the child’s smartphone/tablet use, and various aspects of child development. Data will be collected by online questionnaire at three time points: when the child is 14 months, 20 months, and 3 years old. Additionally, we will conduct interviews with some parents: This will allow more in-depth exploration of how parents perceive their smartphone use and how it affects parent-child interactions. Parent-child interactions will also be observed in video films; here we will be interested in the child’s reactions as well.

Study participants wanted

In addition to the almost 100 families that participated in the previous study, Smart Start, we are now looking to invite another 40 families to participate in the Smart Toddlers study. This invitation is especially for parents who regard their smartphone use as rather problematic—that is, who use their smartphones very frequently or have noticed that their smartphone use is affecting their interactions with their family members. Click here to sign up

Up to now, young parents have not really had outside guidance on the question of how the use of digital media can affect their relationships with their children. To be able to provide parents of young children with evidence-based advice on using smartphones, we need detailed research findings on smartphone use and its possible effect on parent-child interactions in early childhood. The Smart Toddlers study will generate such knowledge. This will help us to make research-based recommendations regarding smartphone use in early childhood.

Contact and information

If you have questions about participating in the study, please contact Larissa Schneebeli.

Two departments – One research goal

This study is being conducted in cooperation by researchers at the ZHAW School of Applied Psychology and the ZHAW School of Health Professions under the Swiss National Science Foundation research initiative "Digital Lives".

The research team in the Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology section at the ZHAW School of Applied Psychology conducts research with a focus on psychotherapy, counseling, and diagnostics with adults and children as well as infant research. The research unit at the Institute of Midwifery of the ZHAW School of Health Professions conducts research with a focus on sustainable midwifery to promote the health of women, their children, and their families.  

Project leader

Project team member

Sign-up form for participation

Important information

Thank you for signing up to take part in the Smart Toddlers study. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • You are taking part in the study with your first child.
  • Your first child was born before October 31, 2020 and is not older than 14 months.
  • You use a smartphone.

If both mother AND father take part in the study, it is important that both mother and father enter their contact information below. If mother OR father alone takes part in the study, only their own contact information needs to be entered below.

Parents: Personal information
Child’s date of birth
Additional questions