Mother-Baby Bonding in the Age of the Smartphone: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ragnar Storaasli, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lies Van Bekkum, Psy.D.


Mothers, Smartphone, Social media, Attachment behavior, Maternal sensitivity

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


In today’s world, the prevalence of “smartphones” has made access to phone calls, texting, emailing, social media, and internet as simple as a quick swipe or press of a button. Many psychological studies are examining the way in which technology impacts psychological wellbeing, often yielding mixed results. While there is a growing body of literature exploring parents’ use of technology, the way in which technology usage impacts mother-baby relationships has yet to be examined in depth. Given the role that maternal sensitivity (e.g., physical contact, affectionate response, attunement to infant’s emotional state) plays in mother-baby bonding and the mixed results regarding the influence of technology on early parenthood, this project set out to explore mothers’ perceptions about the way their technology use influences bonding with their babies, as well as their general experience of mothering.

The current study utilized a qualitative interpretive phenomenological design to analyze interviews of six first time mothers from the Metropolitan Denver area with babies between 16 and 24 months. In-depth analysis of the data resulted in the following themes: enhances connection, access to bigger world of information and support, self-care and distraction, leads to negative feelings, and detracts from relationship with baby. Limitations of the current study, as well as directions for future research are explored.


52 pages

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