TORONTO – The drawing shows a mother pushing a stroller, but so busy looking at the phone that she doesn't even realize her baby has fallen.
The following text reads: "Mom was busy on Instagram / When beautiful bubby fell out of her cart / And got in the invisible way and alone / Wishing he was loved as a phone."
The image by Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig sparked a storm of controversy in Australia earlier this week and also attracted international attention from angry parents.
The artist's own sister, who is also an artist, responded with a Facebook illustration of her shooting her brother from behind, while a mother pushing a baby looks. "Michael needs to hear from you for a change" she wrote in the post to her readers.
The reaction on Twitter was harsh: “The problem is not that he is wrong… He is wrong a] about someone's fatherhood; and b] do it with an air of superiority " wrote a user.
“I saw several mothers talk about how Leunig's cartoon really bothered them while they fought babies. It's not harmless, ”another user tweeted.
Toronto paternity expert Alyson Schafer said parents should not be discouraged when they feel they are on trial.
"Each of us is being called upon to make individual decisions for what is best for our children, all the variables in our lives that people may not like," she said.
Australian artist Paula Kuka captured this feeling when she posted her reaction on Facebook with an illustration depicting more than a dozen things a mother did to her son titled "What I Did" and a second panel titled "What Did You See" showing the mother pushing a stroller and looking at the phone.
"I spent yesterday feeling a little angry and powerless over a particular drawing by a well-known Australian cartoonist," she wrote. "Today I realized that I could be angry, but I'm not powerless. This is my answer.
Still, Schafer acknowledged that there is some merit in Leunig's comment. "We can deny how long we posted," she said.
"We need to keep thinking about the balance between how much we are really enjoying our children and how much of their lives we are capturing, sharing with others, which may be undermining our experience."
Some social media users agree, calling the cartoon "realistic" and "pertinent".
There have also been extreme cases reported in recent years illustrating just how dangerous technological distractions can be.
Several years ago, a couple were charged with child abuse and neglect after their two-year-old son was found barefoot and crying, trying to enter the house. The couple admitted that they were playing Pokemon Go and left home for an hour and a half. And earlier this year, a Mother Sudbury pleads guilty after her 18-month-old son drowned in a bathtub while she was in another room talking on Facebook.
But these are extreme values, Schafer said.
Leunig, considered a “living treasure” in Australia in 1999, has gained popularity with his flamboyant artistic style, but this is not the first time his cartoons have been criticized. He has courted controversy in the past with his anti-vaccination cartoons and his critical view of working mothers, which was captured in several illustrations, especially "Thoughts of a Baby Lying in a Day Care" in 1995.