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Do parents in Switzerland pay more attention to their smartphones than their children?

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Do parents in Switzerland pay more attention to their smartphones than their children?
Photo: Kuzmichtudio/Depositphotos
10:12 CEST+02:00
Some new fathers announce the birth of their child on WhatsApp before even taking their baby in their arms, while some breastfeeding mothers are so involved in their social media feeds that they don’t know if their baby is feeding correctly.
Those are just two of the regular occurrences health professionals in the Geneva area told newspaper La Tribune de Genève for a report on the effects of smartphones on new parents.
 
According to the paper more and more parents are overusing their phones in maternity wards, spoiling those first moments with their newborn child.
 
A recent phenomenon, it mostly concerns new parents under 30 – so-called millennials – health professionals told the paper. 
 
“At first we asked parents to turn off their phones in the birthing room, but that habit has gradually been lost. Telephones are completely a part of people’s daily lives, so it’s become very difficult to ban them,” Laurence van Baalen, a midwife Geneva’s university hospital (HUG), told the paper.
 
Some fathers hide behind their phones in moments of intense emotion, she added.
 
“It’s a shame that a moment as intimate as the birth of a child is spoiled by so many external voices.” 
 
And the problem isn’t limited to hospitals, with private midwife Sarah Aghedo telling the paper that many mothers scroll through their social media whilst breastfeeding, making them less attentive to their baby and causing them to “forget” to stimulate their baby to feed.
 
Not only do smartphones spoil special bonding moments but they also make new mums more tired, added another midwife. 
 
“Some mothers never manage to sleep, they are constantly called upon by either their baby or their phone,” said Nathalie Piguet.
 
 
What is all this doing to children? Though no scientific studies have yet been carried out in Switzerland, a family specialist at HUG told La Tribune de Genève that the use of smartphones could be eroding parent-child relations.
 
“Children of parents who are monopolized by their phone screens have a tendency to become more irritable or to close themselves off,” said Daniel Schechter.
 
And according to some, it could have life-threatening consequences, too.
 
Earlier this month Michael Kunz, president of the Swiss lifeguards association, told Swiss media that parents’ obsession with their smartphones was leading them to be less attentive of their children in swimming pools and lake bathing areas.
 
“Many mothers and fathers are so absorbed by their phones that they are no longer effectively watching over their children,” he said, adding that he had recently rescued a child whose mother was too busy with her phone to notice her child was in danger.
 
He called for the trialling of a smartphone ban in swimming areas to tackle the problem. 
 

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