The rise of the digi parent. Why smartphones are offering a lifeline to new mums

A new survey has revealed that smartphones have changed new mums experience of parenthood [Photo: Getty]

In the swing park, in the café, during the swimming run…it’s not unusual to see mums everywhere frantically scrolling their smartphones. Whether it’s catching up on social media, grabbing a quick news edit or responding to a work email, technology can provide a lifeline for new mums. But it doesn’t come without the standard parenting guilt.

Catch a mum’s eye as she looks up from her phone and she’ll likely look away in haste while guiltily shoving her iphone back into her bag for fear of being bashed for daring to take a phone break. But while mums are continuously being shamed for turning to tech, new research has revealed it could actually be revolutionising their experience of parenthood.

The study, conducted by parenting site Netmums has found that thanks to their smartphones new mums are feeling happier and better connected than ever before.

In contrast to a major Netmums survey in 2006 where 60% of mums admitted they felt unhappy and isolated, these latest findings show that the rise of social media, 24/7 connectivity and smartphone saturation has led to 85% of mums feeling happier, more fulfilled and better supported.

Mum’s phones are the hub of their online world with much of life co-ordinated, discussed and recorded using it. And far from offering shallow connections, 41% of mums believe that social media interactions are as important as real world interactions.

The survey also reveals that mums are increasingly trusting of online resources in all aspects of parenting. Whereas in 2006, 52% of mums would ask their GP and 58% would ask their Health Visitor for parenting advice, in 2016, the role of friends and the community forums offered by parenting websites have gained equal status to media professionals and they are all equally seen as the most trusted form of parenting advice.

Smartphones can offer a lifeline to new mums [Photo: Getty]

Responding to the findings, Netmums editor in chief, Anne-Marie O'Leary, said: "Mums are forever getting bashed for spending too much time on their phones – something Netmums finds incredibly frustrating! And finally we have the proof – mums are better parents and happier people as a result of the technology in their pockets. Thanks to the rise of the smartphone, smart mums are now never more than a swipe away from family, friends, doctors, midwives, their favourite supermarket or parenting sites like Netmums. Whether it’s 10am or 2am, mums can now rest easy that they’re never truly alone. What a great step forward for mum kind.“

As the survey suggests smartphones can offer new mums a vital lifeline particularly in those foggy first few months of parenthood. Not only can they google their concerns, they can instantly message their friends, commiserate over sleep deprivation via baby message boards, do the weekly shop and stay in touch with the world via social media.

But most mothers tend to regard their phone as a sort of dirty little secret. Don’t get caught looking at your screen in public or you’ll risk being branded a disengaged mum. Forget that you’re surviving on micro-sleeps, that your baby has colic or that your nipples are so painful you wonder if they’ll ever feel the same again. The anti-phone brigade thinks you should soldier on regardless.

So it’s time to cut the shaming because as the survey results highlight for many mums smartphones have helped to transform what it means to be a mother. Friends have never been easier to keep up with, play dates have never been quicker to arrange, solutions to parenting dilemmas from sleep training to teething have never been simpler to find.

Mums are increasingly turning to the internet for parenting advice [Photo: Getty]

Don’t get us wrong most mums understand that being present with your baby is vital, giving them attention and spending time to bond is fundamental for their development and happiness. But equally, a moment of pure unadulterated internet-ing can have a hugely positive affect on a mum’s psychological wellbeing. Interacting with other mums going through similar problems with, for example, baby bowel movements, can be reassuring and swapping sleep tips can be less isolating.

There’s no doubt smartphones have changed life as we know it for everyone, but it’s new mums who have likely reaped their everyday life-altering benefits more than most. It’s just a shame that it’s the very same group of people who feel the most guilt about using them.

Did you find your smartphone changed your parenting experience? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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