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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM (IST)

Raising on the internet

The modern mom is bringing up kids with her trusted aide — baby care websites. Problem is when she solely depends on apps and blogs for the task
Raising on the internet
Google mothers: Doctors say it is good to be an informed parent, but it is not a great idea to obsess over every little thing

Khushboo Arora

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A mother’s brain is always on the go — churning out more problems (and less solutions) than her non-mom, corporate-trained brain could have ever imagined. So how do you handle so much pressure? Well, most just Google it or look it up on an app. There are a whole lot of platforms that cater to all kinds of mothers’ queries — right from fertility support to the day you missed your period till the toddler years. They are a mom’s new friend.

Ekta Dixit, a senior business analyst, agrees completely. Staying in a nuclear family, this working mother of two found solace in these apps. “As I was a first-time mom, baby care apps kept me informed about what to expect. I did not follow them too religiously; they were more of a guide,” says Ekta, who tells that she took care to never depend ‘too much’. Navneet Sandhu, a prosthodontist and lecturer at National Dental College, Derabassi, was luckier to have her mother and mother-in-law to guide her. However, her doubts could only be satisfied by in-depth articles written by professionals on various websites. “Not just updates, these apps kept me on par with the global aspect of any problem. I could connect with moms and practitioners abroad and get a different perspective as well.”

On the other hand, Meeta Gupta, a homemaker and mother of three, had no time for these apps. Being in a joint family having four other kids at home, she was as good as trained already. She relied on the experience of these women in her family for all the pre- and post-natal care. She says she found it easier to trust people who had experienced issues like hers, rather than an article on the phone.

Doctors feel that it is good to be an informed parent, but it is not a great idea to obsess over every little thing. Dr Vinod Gagneja, former director of health services, Chandigarh, says mothers today are much more informed and prepared than they were 20-30 years ago. “But the catch is that theirs is half-baked information. Milestones are defined by external factors and missing them may not always be worrisome. Parents panic and pressurise the child to perform because the app says it is time the child should be doing something by then. At times, it’s the other way round. They can miss certain symptoms or simply not relate with an ailment mentioned in a particular article.” He feels parents should read up and be informed, but must always consult a doctor before coming to any conclusion.

This is exactly what happened with Bhawna, who downloaded various baby development apps and subscribed to Facebook pages of baby care group and carried them around like a dictionary on motherhood. She would look up every query that came to her head. “I started panicking even if the slightest of things was out of place. The paediatrician kept assuring me there was no reason to be concerned and that my son would catch up. Eventually he did, but I guess all that worry was not required,” he says.

Dr Sheel Sethi, a Ferozepur-based paediatrician, calls such moms ‘Google Mothers’. “Earlier what we diagnosed and advised was sacred, but now there is a clear shift. The mothers today are much more aware. They Google symptoms and a diagnosis is ready in their minds before we are consulted. So what might be a simple rash would, as per the search results, be meningococcemia and hence the worry.”

The reshaped family structure has a lot to do with this approach. Nuclear set ups with no guidance or child care provider other than the parents, who are obviously inexperienced, make these apps and social media groups an emotional blanket. The roller coaster ride of parenthood has found a new friend in technology. This, if combined with the diagnosis of a doctor and balanced with guidance from experienced mothers, can provide a holistic approach to raising the new generation, while keeping your own sanity in check.

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