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‘As he’s been growing up, I’ve used my phone to take millions of photos of him and some videos — but also to keep an eye on the real world through social media and news websites, especially while I was on maternity leave, often checking it every 20 minutes or so.‘Theo’s now got to an age where he knows how to demand my full attention and isn’t afraid to vocalise that, either by crying as soon as I pick up my phone or even hitting it out of my hand sometimes.’Jude admits she found the first few months of motherhood hard, and her phone became a lifeline to the outside world.
She used it to chat to other mums on forums, a much-needed reprieve from the daily slog as well as a font of useful advice.‘I had a life before my baby, and I suppose I saw my phone as a way of re-entering that world,’ she says.‘But I soon realised I probably didn’t have the right balance with it.
While her daughter Kitty demands attention and complains about Kate’s attachment to her phone, her son Herbie has responded very differently.‘He has stopped talking to me as much, and is always head down and focused on his own phone or tablet, playing games,’ says Kate.
To her infinite shame, Kate Beavis has seen it for herself.Theo was getting older and time was passing quickly, and I’d feel terrible if using my phone for any reason got in the way of a special moment or memory.’Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, a child psychiatrist and medical director of Woodbourne Priory Hospital in Birmingham, is sympathetic to the isolation of new mothers.‘Being removed from the social aspects of work, as well as losing part of your personal identity as a working woman, can be a big shock,’ she says.‘Many use the internet to seek reassurance about their parenting and to keep socially connected with family, friends and colleagues.’However balance, as Jude says, is key.‘Children can feel that they are not being given enough attention by their parent and they are not a priority,’ says Dr Zwanenberg.Kate Beavis can spend no longer than ten minutes helping her son Herbie with his homework before her eyes start flicking longingly towards the sideboard. I don’t think I’ve ever really watched one of their swimming lessons.‘Kitty will come out and say: “Mummy, did you see how I swam that length? Like many of today’s busy working mothers, Kate, 44, from Cranfield in Bedfordshire, is a smartphone addict who admits to excessively using her phone in front of her children.‘I’m on my phone almost the whole time when I’m with them,’ says Kate, who runs the National Vintage Wedding Fair and also has a six-year-old daughter, Kitty.‘First thing in the morning, Kitty will climb into our bed for a cuddle, but I’ll be too busy reaching for my phone to see what I might have missed overnight.‘Even when they’re doing their homework, I get distracted by my phone and can’t stop checking it.