Millennials Will Spend 38 Hours Taking Selfies This Year — Here’s What to Do Instead

How much are selfies costing us? The answer might surprise you.

young girl taking selfie with phone
Updated May 13, 2024
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Love them or hate them, smartphones have become a big part of our everyday lives, taking up nearly three hours and 40 minutes of our time, each day. They help keep us feeling connected, impact how we communicate, and even determine how we shop.

Another area they have undeniably infiltrated is how we capture memories — specifically through selfies. While you may be guilty of taking a selfie or two every once in a while, have you ever stopped to consider the impact they might be having on a grander scale?

We analyzed key data on the potential impact of time spent taking selfies and what would happen if it were applied to other areas. What we found is that scaling back on capturing the perfect selfie could actually help you get ahead in life faster than you might think.

So, how much time do we spend taking selfies?

selfie time

Data shows that U.S. millennials whose ages range from 18 to 34 are expected to take more than 25,000 selfies over their lifetimes. Adding all of that up translates to about 2,400 lifetime hours spent taking selfies, or 38 hours each year — almost a full work week.

That’s more time each year than we spend managing personal finances, searching and interviewing for new jobs, attending or hosting social events, or even walking, according to the American Time Use Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

selfies vs other activities

While no two people spend their time equally among these activities, it’s eye opening to realize you might be paying more attention to capturing the perfect selfie than interacting with others and learning how to manage your money. The long-term effects of spending so little time in these areas could prove to have a detrimental impact on your livelihood and happiness.

The opportunity cost of selfies

Capturing the perfect selfie multiple times a week could be secretly costing you a fortune. If you’re wondering what else you might be able to accomplish with your time, here are a few opportunity costs to consider and how they could impact you in the long term.

You could earn more money

Americans spend more time taking selfies than looking for a job each year. If you’re unhappy with your current job, consider blocking off time to search for something new or to learn a skill that might help you qualify for a promotion, potentially leading to a raise.

You can also pick up an extra shift or two, or take on a side job as just two of many ways to make money for a variety of uses. As the average hourly wage in the U.S. is $23.31, 38 hours of work could help you earn an additional $885.78 per year — all for trading in a standard workweek of selfie-taking time.

You could pay down debt

Another way to consider utilizing your time is to pay down debt owed. With 38 hours per year to dedicate, you’d have a little more than three hours per month to work on a solid debt repayment strategy. Taking into account the type of debt you have and the amount owed, you could create a plan for how to pay off debt in lieu of getting caught up in selfie culture.

You might be surprised to discover that when you take the time to focus on your financial well-being, you can make big strides to get the debt relief you deserve.

You could improve your health

Spending 38 hours per year, or 44 minutes each week, improving your health can be a game changer. You could fit in a brisk, 11-minute walk four times a week to help clear your mind and reduce stress, or you could even train for one of the 17,000 5K events held annually in the U.S.

Regardless of the activity you choose, moving your body a little each day can provide long-lasting health and financial benefits. Since healthier people, in many cases, are less likely to have health-related problems later in life, boosting your health can be a mindful way to plan for lower health-care costs during retirement.

When you consider about two-thirds of bankruptcies are linked to medical costs, it becomes clear that anything that can help you reduce the chance you’ll need to spend money on healthcare is a good thing.

Besides, you could even free up money in your budget. The average married couple with children spends 7.1% of their household income on health care, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you feel health-care costs are a big part of your budget, getting healthier instead of taking selfies could go a long way toward trimming some of the costs.

You could save money on bills

Reclaiming 44 extra minutes each week from taking selfies could also help with budgeting and reducing your bills. Thanks to websites and apps that help you easily compare prices, it’s possible to research ways that might cut costs in a short period of time. Even if you were to dedicate just half of that time, you’d still have 22 minutes per week to work on cost-cutting, which is likely enough time to tackle one bill per week.

Bottom line

It’s not the end of the world if you enjoy taking a few selfies. However, the underlying reality is that we spend a lot of time on our smartphones, engaging in tasks that bring us little benefit. By allocating some or all of that time to things that can help you get ahead, you may be surprised at how much it can improve your life and finances.


FinanceBuzz analyzed data from studies conducted by eMarketer and Flurry to estimate the amount of time spent on smartphones. Takeaways from the analysis were then cross-referenced with a survey conducted by Luster Premium White that looked at the amount of selfies taken during an average lifespan in the U.S. The amount of time spent on various activities comparable to time spent taking selfies is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

FinanceBuzz’s analysis included data from the following sources:

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Author Details

Laura Bostwick

Laura writes about managing money, entrepreneurship, getting out of debt, and using credit cards responsibly.