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Drawing on Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory and prior empirical research, the current study examines the way that blogging and social networking may impact feelings of connection and social support, which in turn could impact maternal well-being (e.g., marital functioning, parenting stress, and depression). One hundred and fifty-seven new mothers reported on their media use and various well-being variables. On average, mothers were 27 years old (SD = 5.15) and infants were 7.90 months old (SD = 5.21). All mothers had access to the Internet in their home. New mothers spent approximately 3 hours on the computer each day, with most of this time spent on the Internet. Findings suggested that frequency of blogging predicted feelings of connection to extended family and friends which then predicted perceptions of social support. This in turn predicted maternal well-being, as measured by marital satisfaction, couple conflict, parenting stress, and depression. In sum, blogging may improve new mothers' well-being, as they feel more connected to the world outside their home through the Internet.
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New Mothers and Media Use:
Associations between Blogging, Social Networking, and Maternal Well-being
Final article published in the Maternal and Child Health
Journal. You can access it here:
McDaniel, B. T., Coyne, S. M., & Holmes, E. K. (2012). New mothers and
media use: Associations between blogging, social networking, and
maternal well-being. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16, 1509-
1517. DOI: 10.1007/s10995-011-0918-2
Objectives Drawing on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory and prior empirical research, the
current study examines the way that blogging and social networking may impact feelings of
connection and social support, which in turn could impact maternal well-being (e.g., marital
functioning, parenting stress, and depression).
Methods One hundred and fifty-seven new mothers reported on their media use and various well-
being variables. On average, mothers were 27 years old (SD = 5.15) and infants were 7.90
months old (SD = 5.21). All mothers had access to the Internet in their home.
Results New mothers spent approximately three hours on the computer each day, with most of
this time spent on the Internet. Findings suggested that frequency of blogging predicted feelings
of connection to extended family and friends which then predicted perceptions of social support.
This in turn predicted maternal well-being, as measured by marital satisfaction, couple conflict,
parenting stress, and depression.
Conclusion In sum, blogging may improve new mothers’ well-being, as they feel more
connected to the world outside their home through the Internet.
Keywords: Transition to parenthood, maternal well-being, media use, blogging, social
New Mothers and Media Use:
Associations between Blogging, Social Networking, and Maternal Well-being
The transition to parenthood is a long-term restructuring process that begins at pregnancy
and continues for some time after the birth of the child (1). Due to the substantial demands a
newborn child poses to the family, the transition to parenthood is among the most stressful life
events many individuals experience (2) and can be associated with a host of psychological,
physical, and social problems for parents (2-5). Successful employment of social, familial, and
spousal resources is key to managing parenting stress and to transitioning well to parenthood (6).
Social support for new parents has been connected with better maternal health,
relationship satisfaction, child outcomes, and parent-child interactions (7-9). One way that new
mothers may receive support to navigate and deal with their new responsibilities is through
social connection offered via new forms of media (10). There are mixed claims about the
Internet’s effect on mothers. Some claim that the Internet can help empower women through
online communities and information exchange (11-14). Yet, others claim that the Internet merely
affirms norms of femininity and consumerism (15), which could negatively influence mothers’
feelings of parenting stress, competency, and adjustment to the transition in general. Also, some
studies find that high levels of Internet use may result in less time spent with others and
increased loneliness (16), while other studies show no displacement of time with others (17).
Given these mixed results for overall time spent on the Internet, it is important to examine
specific types of Internet use, such as blogging or social networking that may be associated with
aspects of maternal well-being.
Blogging and social networking are relatively new forms of expression and connection
for mothers. For example, “mommy blogs” have received great attention in the news media and
are reportedly a very popular media form used by mothers to connect with the wider parenting
community (18). This may be particularly important for new mothers, as such women may feel
isolated and tied down by a newborn’s schedule. Whether new mothers create their own blogs or
read established blogs, participation in blogging may provide such mothers both a distraction and
a sense of connection with other mothers around the world, assuring them that they are not alone
(19). Similarly, social networking may provide a sense of connection for new mothers; such
sites provide ample opportunity to connect with friends and family without ever leaving one’s
Even with many mothers using the Internet on a day-to-day basis, Madge and O’Connor
point out that the use of the Internet by new mothers has not been adequately explored (20).
Plantin and Daneback also explain that many of the studies examining parents’ media use have
lacked theoretical frameworks, leaving many questions unanswered (21). Thus, it is important to
use a strong theoretical framework to empirically examine whether blogging and social
networking can actually facilitate social connection and support for new mothers.
Besides increasing feelings of connectivity for new mothers, participation in new media
may also indirectly influence a mother’s stress, which may impact her depression, marital
quality, and family functioning (2, 22-25). Prior research has established that social support
buffers parenting stresses (26-28). Thus, in this paper we examine how participation in blogging
and social networking may indirectly be associated with a number of maternal outcomes,
including parenting stress, social support, marital conflict, marital satisfaction, and depression.
Conceptual Framework
Based on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, transition to parenthood researchers
emphasize the interplay between individuals, families, and the larger social context (29).
Ecological theory assumes that individuals develop in a multitude of systemic contexts: the
microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. The two systems most relevant to the
role of media on motherhood are the microsystem, which encompasses the relationships and
interactions a mother, her partner, and her child have with their immediate surroundings (e.g. the
interaction they have at home), and the mesosystem, which represents the connection between
the mother and the institutions with which she interacts (e.g., the connection between new media
such as blogging or social networking sites and the mother). Thus, guided by this framework,
mothers should be able to improve interactions within their microsystem (e.g. interactions with
their partner and their child) if these microsystemic interactions are facilitated by their
interaction with others in the mesosystem (e.g. relationships with others in their community
through media institutions such as blogging and social networking sites). For example, mothers
may be able to share successful personal experiences on a blog or social networking site and
receive feedback from other parents that will reinforce perceptions of social support. Mothers
may also learn through observation or vicarious experience as they read about others’
experiences. All of this feedback via blogs and social networking sites may increase perceptions
of social support and reduce a mother’s stress, subsequently enhancing other aspects of her
wellbeing, including increased positive perceptions of marital quality, decreased marital conflict,
and decreased depressive symptoms.
The Current Study
The aim of the current study is to examine whether participation in blogging and social
networking are associated with maternal well-being. We focus on first-time mothers who have
recently transitioned to parenthood, a group that is arguably more at risk for feelings of isolation
and parenting stress than more experienced parents. Based on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological
theory and other research concerning mothering and media use (e.g., 10, 20, 30), we present the
following hypotheses:
H1: We hypothesize that new mothers will utilize the computer and Internet every day, with at
least some of this time spent on social networking and blogging.
H2: We predict that the majority of new mothers will report reasons for blogging that align with
perceptions of social support, such as maintaining contact with family and friends.
H3: As outlined in our conceptual framework, we were most interested in mothers’ microsystems
and mesosystems. Therefore, we hypothesize that media social supports, such as blogging and
social networking, will be associated with new mothers’ abilities to stay connected with others in
their social network and with stronger perceptions of social support (mesosytem). We then
hypothesize that social support will be negatively related to mycrosystemic processes including
parenting stress, marital conflict, and maternal depression, and positively related with marital
satisfaction. Decreased parenting stress is expected to be associated with decreased maternal
depression and marital conflict. Marital conflict is expected to be negatively related to marital
satisfaction. Figure 1 shows the hypothesized model.
New mothers were recruited through classroom announcements, emails, and contacts
with local hospitals and birthing clinics. In order to qualify for inclusion in this study, mothers
had to have a baby less than 18 months old which was their only and first child. Mothers who
qualified were directed to the online survey. This research was conducted in accord with
prevailing ethical principles as set forth by the American Psychological Association and was
approved by the University Institutional Review Board (IRB).
One hundred and fifty-seven new mothers completed the study. On average, the mothers
were 27 years old (SD = 5.15), were in their first marriage, and had been married an average of
3.26 years (SD = 2.15). Their infants were on average 7.90 months old (SD = 5.21). Most of the
mothers were White non-Hispanic, had graduated from college, and had a household income of
less than $50,000. About half of the mothers worked, with some of them working from home.
The average number of hours worked in a week was 12.18 (SD = 15.94). All mothers had a
computer and the Internet in their home (see Table 1).
Media Use and Daily Life. Media use by new mothers was measured by asking them to
enter the average number of hours they use various forms of media per day, such as using the
computer, watching television, using a mobile phone, and listening to music. They were also
asked to indicate how often they participate in these activities across a 5-point scale, ranging
from 1 (never) to 3 (once every 2 to 3 weeks) to 5 (several times a week). Time spent on daily
life tasks was also rated by mothers (e.g., housework, childcare tasks, and sleeping). All media
use items were created specifically for this study and were pilot tested to ensure readability.
Computer and Internet Use. Although it is understood that mothers may also have access
to the Internet via mobile phones, iPads, and other devices, mothers reported mainly on their
computer and Internet use (e.g., “How frequently are you using the internet when on the
computer?”). They also rated how often they engaged in ten specific activities while on the
Internet, including “blogging”, “social networking (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, etc.)”, “checking
email”, “Searching for and reading parenting information”, “reading the news”, “listening to
music (e.g., Pandora, etc.)”, “shopping (e.g., Amazon, Walmart, etc.)”, “researching for a class
or work”, “chatting”, and “watching TV/Movies”. An “other” item was also included where
mothers could write in additional ways that they used the Internet that were not already listed.
These items were rated on a 5-point scale, ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (very often). Only
blogging and social networking items were retained for the current study.
Reasons for Blogging. Mothers’ reasons for blogging were assessed using a measure
developed by Lenhart and Fox (31). This measure lists ten common reasons for blogging and
asks the participant to rate whether each reason is a (1) major reason, (2) minor reason, or (3) not
a reason that she blogs (Cronbach’s alpha = .71). Reasons include items such as to express
yourself creatively, to document your personal experiences or share them with others, to stay in
touch with friends and family, and to share practical knowledge or skills with others.
Feelings of Connectedness. Feelings of connection were assessed using the following two
items which were rated across a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (very isolated) to 4 (very
connected): (1) extended family and (2) friends (Cronbach’s alpha = .70). For the purposes of
our analysis, a composite connection to extended family and friends was created by summing
the items and taking the mean.
Social Support. Social support was measured using the Relationships with Other People
Scale (32-33), an 11-item measure on which mothers rate their perceived availability of support
over the past month. Each item is scored from 1 (none of the time) to 6 (all of the time). Higher
scores represent greater perceived availability of support. Cronbach’s alpha was .90.
Parenting Stress. Mothers completed a 30-item, modified version of the 101-item
Parenting Stress Index (34). Each item is scored on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1
(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Higher scores represent greater parenting stress
(Cronbach’s alpha = .83).
Marital Conflict. To assess marital conflict, participants responded to eight common
problems experienced in couple relationships in terms of how often each item is a problem in
their relationship. Items were selected from the RELATE assessment battery (35), such as
“Rearing children” and “Financial matters.” Responses were based on a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (very often). In the present study, frequency of conflict had good
internal consistency (Cronbach’s Alpha = .75).
Marital Satisfaction. Marital satisfaction was assessed using the Quality of Marriage
Index (QMI)(36). The QMI is a six-item inventory that assesses marital satisfaction using broad
items, such as “We have a good marriage.” The respondent shows the degree of agreement with
each of the five items on a scale of 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree). In the
present study, the QMI had high internal consistency (Cronbach’s Alpha = .96).
Maternal Depression. Mothers completed the CES-D, which is designed to measure
maternal symptoms of depression (37). Mothers rate how often they have felt 20 different
symptoms during the past week. Each item is rated on a 4-point scale ranging from 0 (rarely or
none of the timeless than 1 day) to 3 (most or all of the time5 to 7 days) (Cronbach’s Alpha
= .81).
Descriptive Analyses: Mothers’ Media Use
The most frequently used media item by mothers was the computer (M = 5.90, SD =
0.37), with mothers’ rating themselves as using it every day. Interestingly, the amount of hours
the computer was used per day (M = 3.12, SD = 2.50) came behind only childcare tasks (M =
8.72, SD = 4.06) (t (156) = -13.46, p < .001) and sleeping (M = 7.34, SD = 1.52) (t (156) = -17.20, p
< .001). Also, mothers spent about one hour longer on the computer than on housework each day
(M = 1.87, SD = 1.05) (t (156) = 5.41, p < .001). Watching television (M = 4.88, SD = 1.58),
listening to music (M = 4.78, SD = 1.09), reading books (M = 4.75, SD = 1.29), and texting were
also common (M = 4.59, SD = 1.85).
Computer use. As mothers extensively used computers, it is key to examine what they
were doing while on the computer. The results show that they most frequently were using the
Internet. Mothers were on the Internet while on the computer almost 3 hours per day on average
(M = 2.92, SD = 2.37). In sum, they were on the Internet almost the entire time they were on the
computer each day.
Internet use. The next step was to examine what mothers were doing while on the
Internet. While on the Internet, mothers utilized social networking sites fairly often (M = 3.78,
SD = 1.25) and blogged sometimes (M = 3.30, SD = 1.22). Although these mothers utilized
social networking sites significantly more than blogging on average (t (155) = 4.21, p < .001),
social networking and blogging both ranged from those that never used them to those who used
them very often. There were no significant differences between mothers who blogged and those
who did not on any demographic variables, whereas those who utilized social networking sites
were younger (M = 26.73, SD = 4.97) than those who never used these sites (M = 30.00, SD =
5.67) (t (154) = 2.24, p < .05).
Reasons for Blogging
Blogging was a fairly popular phenomenon in this study. Of 157 mothers, 111 read blogs
at least sometimes (76%), and 96 authored their own blogs (61%). Those who authored blogs
rated their reasons for blogging. The major reasons for blogging were to document personal
experiences or share them with others (89%) and to stay in touch with friends and family (86%).
This appears to support the hypothesized model of blogging linking with connection to others.
Bivariate Correlations between Study Variables
Bivariate correlations between all main variables are presented in Table 2. All
correlations were in the predicted directions, although some variables were related in
unanticipated ways. For example, social networking was not associated with any outcome
variable, while blogging related only to connection to extended family and friends and social
Main Analysis
Analysis Plan. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) using maximum likelihood
estimation in the Analysis of Moments Structure (AMOS) software (38) was conducted to test
the fit of our hypothesized model to the data. SEM is a multivariate statistical analysis which
allows scholars to test and refine complex theoretical models. SEM is preferred over regression
as SEM uses maximum likelihood estimation. Maximum likelihood estimation minimizes bias
(i.e., Type 1 error) in estimates, allows one to include multiple independent and dependent
variables in the same analysis (which offers a better assessment of the overall strength and
direction of effects), and offers basic confidence intervals and other assessments of goodness of
fit for hypothesis testing (39). Goodness of fit indexes compare the observed covariances with
the covariances predicted by the hypothesized model. Assessments of “goodness of fit” include
the chi-square (χ
) test, the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA), and baseline
comparison indexes such as the Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI) or Comparative Fit Index (CFI). χ
examines whether or not there is a statistically significant difference between the model and the
sample data and degrees of freedom. A non-significant χ
statistic is preferable as it reflects
“exact fit” between the hypothesized model and the data. The RMSEA reflects good model fit
with a score of .06 or lower (the lower the better), while the TLI/CFI reflect good model fit with
a score of .95 or higher (on a scale of 0 to 1) (40).
Building a sound structural equation model is often referred to in two steps: 1) building
and refining the measurement model, and 2) testing and refining the structural model. While the
measurement model allows one to account for measurement error, an important guideline in
model building is that one must have at least 10 individuals per parameter to be estimated. Due
to our sample size, we were unable to estimate both the structural and measurement models.
Thus, we report only the structural model (for guidelines regarding sample size and parameter
estimation in the measurement model, see Kline, 41). However, we emphasize that the benefits
of maximum likelihood estimation and SEM as a multivariate statistical tool are still present in
the building and testing of the structural model (39, 41).
Results. We tested a structural model of engagement in blogging and social networking as
predictors of connection with family and friends and social support using maximum likelihood
estimation in AMOS. These variables were then modeled as predictors of marital satisfaction,
marital conflict, parenting stress, and depression. The hypothesized model did not meet
acceptable criteria for good model fit (40) (χ² (16) = 24.20, p = .09; RMSEA = .06, lo = .00, hi =
.10; CFI = .94). Initial analyses revealed that social networking did not predict any of the main
variables; accordingly social networking was dropped in the final model. Further, our initial
model suggested that blogging was not predictive of perceptions of social support (β = .09, ns),
thus we also dropped this structural path in the final model. Figure 2 shows the final model with
standardized path estimates for all participants as a whole. The final model fit the data well (χ²
(12) = 10.63, p = .56; RMSEA = .00, lo = .00, hi = .07; CFI = .99). Frequency of blogging
predicted greater feelings of connection with extended family and friends (β = .25, p < .01).
Connection predicted greater perceptions of social support (β = .36, p < .001), and increased
social support predicted decreased parenting stress (β = -.19, p < .05) and marital conflict (β = -
.33, p < .001), and increased marital satisfaction (β = .26, p < .001). Surprisingly, social support
was not predictive of maternal depression (β = -.13, ns). Finally, decreased parenting stress
predicted decreased maternal depression (β = .24, p < .01) and marital conflict (β = .19, p < .05),
and decreased marital conflict was strongly predictive of increased marital satisfaction (β = -.42,
p < .001).
To our knowledge, this paper is one of the first to examine first-time, new mothers’ social
media use, especially blogging and social networking, and the potential relationship between
media use and maternal well being. According to our results, new mothers appear to be on the
computer around 3 hours per day (mostly on the Internet)a significant proportion of time. It
may be that some of this time is while mothers are at work, but only half of the mothers in this
sample were currently working. More importantly, during this time, new mothers frequently use
social networking sites and sometimes blogs.
Our results revealed that frequency of blogging positively predicted feelings of
connection to extended family and friends. This could potentially be a result of new mothers’
intentions in their blogging. Whereas in a recent survey of bloggers, 37% blogged in order to
stay in touch with friends and family (31), the majority of new mothers in our sample stated this
as their major reason for blogging (86%). This is similar to previous findings that expression and
affiliation explain most of the reasons people use blogs (42), and media tends to help mothers
stay in touch with others (43).
New mothers’ interactions with extended family members and friends through their
blogging (i.e., the mesosystem) theoretically influence their feelings of connection and social
support, as well as interactions within their microsystems (i.e., parenting stress, marital
satisfaction, conflict, and depression). Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory would posit that as
mothers are able to share successful parenting experiences on blogs, receive feedback from
family and friends, and also learn through vicarious experience while reading blogs, their
perceptions of social support could increase. Our analyses provide initial empirical support for
these claims. Future research may also wish to examine exosystem and macrosystem processes.
Thus, blogging is indirectly associated with other areas of a mother’s life through feelings
of connection and support. In their review, Gjerdingen, Froberg, and Fontaine found that social
support across the transition to parenthoodin many forms, such as emotional, tangible, and
informationalwas positively related to maternal well-being and mental health (44). Social
support has consistently been linked to diminished maternal depressive symptoms (27, 45-46), as
well as better marital functioning (8); both of these associations were observed in this study.
Although there was not a direct effect of perceptions of social support on new mothers’
depression, parenting stress did appear to act as an intervening variable between social support
and depression. In sum, blogging may improve new mothers’ well-being, as they feel more
connected to the world outside their home through the Internet (20, 43).
Conversely, unlike blogging, our results revealed that social networking was not
associated with connectedness or social support. Thus, it appears that social networking
functions somewhat differently than blogging. Perhaps new mothers may use these sites to see
what friends and family are up to in their lives, looking at pictures and status updates, but may
not receive much support in return. Accordingly, they do not feel more connected or supported
by those important to them, nor do others build their feelings of competence as a parent. We did
not analyze such possibilities in the current research; accordingly this represents one useful
avenue for future research.
There are also privacy concerns with social networking sites, such as MySpace and
Facebook (47), and although Dwyer, Hiltz, and Passerini found that individuals are likely to
disclose most information regardless of trust (48), this process may work differently for mothers;
if a mother feels that she cannot trust the site she may be less likely to disclose parenting
concerns and calls for support. For instance, Mital, Israel, and Agarwal found that trust mediated
disclosure of information at least partially for their sample (49). Future research should examine
how and with whom new mothers interact on social networking sites.
Limitations & Future Directions
This study, although informative and a necessary first step to understanding social media
effects on new mothers, is exploratory in nature. As is the case in any correlational research, we
cannot establish causation. Further, demonstrated effects may be reversed; for example, it may
be that those mothers with stronger relationships tend to turn to blogging more to connect with
extended family and friends. It is also possible that those with better well-being may be more or
less likely to use media for social support. Even if this were the case, we hypothesize that
blogging or reaching out to extended family and friends would reciprocally increase their
perceptions of social support, and social support has been linked by prior research to a variety of
maternal well-being outcomes (7-9, 50-53). Our sample was limited and consisted of mostly
white, highly-educated mothers. It is also important to note that blogging can be done in different
domains. For example, some mothers may blog in order to connect with family and friends,
while others may blog in order to connect with other parents on the web. This study did not
address this distinction. Finally, our measures of media use were limited (e.g., access to social
media supports on the Internet via mobile phones and other devices was not examined).
There are a number of other directions that may be profitable for future research. As this
study did not have a comparison group of women, future research may wish to compare both
mothers and non-mothers on their media use. Also, it may be of worth to understand exactly
which social networking and parenting sites mothers use most frequently in order for health
professionals to best reach out to mothers on the Internet. Finally, it would be important to
understand whether those who live farther away from parents and extended family are more
likely to blog; blogging may be more beneficial for those who are unable to visit in-person with
extended family.
Conclusion and Practical Implications
Research on mothers’ media use is still in its infancy; therefore an exploratory study was
necessary. The current study acts as a springboard for the development of larger scale projects
and theoretical models for media influences on new mothers across the transition to parenthood.
New mothers appear to be immersed in new age media, such as blogging and social networking.
This study shows that new mothers’ blogging is associated with feelings of connection to
extended family and friends. These feelings link with perceptions of social support, which are
related to many aspects of maternal well-being, such as marital conflict, marital satisfaction,
parenting stress, and finally depression. As blogging is a relatively simple task and small
associations were found even for those who blogged only sometimes, doctors, clinicians, and
family life educators may wish to mention blogging as one way for new mothers to feel more
connected to extended family and friends.
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Table 1
Sample Characteristics
(or N)
Household Income
Less than $20,000
$20,000 - $50,000
Greater than $50,000
White, non-Hispanic
African American
Hispanic American
Some college
High school graduate
Currently working
Working from home
Hours working per
Age (in years)
Age (in months)
First Marriage
Length of Marriage
Computer with internet in home
Total N = 157
Table 2
Zero-Order Correlations Between Independent and Dependent Variables and Descriptive Statistics
Std. Dev.
1. Social
2. Blogging
3. Connection to
Extended Family
& Friends
4. Social
5. Frequency of
6. Marital
7. Parenting
8. Depression
*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001 (N = 146)
... Mommy bloggers and influencers are followed by many mothers and future mothers (Baker and Yang, 2018). Several studies noticed an increase in the use of social media during pregnancy (Harpel, 2018;Smith et al., 2020) and during the first years after giving birth (McDaniel et al., 2012). Following mommy influencers on Instagram has become very popular in the recent years as most women already have profiles on this platform and can thus easily start following (Germic et al., 2021;Hunter, 2016). ...
... Social support is essential for a fluent transition into motherhood and for limiting the negative experiences (Leahy-Warren et al., 2012;Montgomery et al., 2012). Having enough social support as a mother has been associated with a better health for the mother, better parenting practices, and a better relationship between the parents (McDaniel et al., 2012). Finally, apart from the informational and supportive needs, mothers and primigravida like to connect with others who are at the same stage in their lives. ...
... It is known that visuals can easily represent underlying differences in power structures and inequality, which might further stimulate the impressions of perfectionism (PwC, 2017). By constantly presenting the image of perfect moms, mommy influencers on Instagram might strengthen stereotypes about motherhood (McDaniel et al., 2012). More specifically, mothers who are exposed to heavy amounts of the ideal motherhood might accept this as the norm (Hendriks and Burgoon, 2003). ...
Questions are raised about the potential effects of (future) mothers’ regular exposure to the perfect representations of motherhood by mommy influencers. Due to the regular exposure, mothers might see these images as the norm but are not always able to meet with these standards themselves. Based on a survey among mothers and primigravida this study analyzed the association between visiting mommy influencer profiles on Instagram, comparing oneself with these online mothers and perceived parental self-efficacy. For mothers, it was found that both exposure to the content and comparison with the mommy influencers were related to lower perceived parental self-efficacy. For primigravida, the direction of the relationship was different: Regular exposure to mommy influencer content was related to higher parental self-efficacy, meaning that this exposure was helpful. The implications of this study for (future) mothers, mommy influencers, and practitioners who guide mothers through the transition to motherhood will be discussed.
... , (Bartholomew, Schoppe-Sullivan, Glassman, Kamp Dush, & Sullivan, 2012;Duggan et al., 2015). (Lopez, 2009), (Morrison, 2011), (Latipah, Kistoro, Hasanah, & Putranta, 2020;McDaniel, Coyne, & Holmes, 2012). ...
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Objectives: This study investigates the current state and subjective meaning of “sharenting” using social media by mothers raising children with rare diseases. In addition, the future direction of parenting social support for parents using ICTs was explored.Methods: Among the mothers raising a children with rare diseases, those who informed their children of their diseases with hashtags(#) and shared their daily lives on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, were purposefully sampled. Nine mothers with children age one to seven years with different rare diseases participated in the in-depth interviews.Results: Mothers raising children with rare diseases with low prevalence have met various parenting support needs through sharenting. In addition, it was found that many mothers were willing to support other parents with similar experiences by actively sharing their information or daily lives. In other words, sharenting not only enhances the positive cognitive and emotional experiences of mothers raising children with rare diseases but also provides an opportunity to contribute to society, ultimately helping support healthy parenting. Moreover, mothers benefited from various support that transcends time and space through sharenting using social media. Thus, social support for parents in need should be delivered through both traditional and digitalized support integrated with ICTs.Conclusion: To support the healthy development of a children with rare diseases, it is necessary to support the high quality of life of parents and their children. By integrating ICTs, individualized and customized social services can be flexibly provided to families and children with rare diseases that have been neglected.
... (continued) relationship but only for individuals with low self-esteem (Utz & Beukeboom, 2011). Last, blogging among new mothers (McDaniel et al., 2012) and internet use among Mormon husbands (but not wives) related to marital satisfaction (Davies et al., 2012). Changing level of analysis from individuals (a 1 ) to partners, six studies used data addressing both partners in a relationship (marked a 2 in Table 2). ...
Information and communication technology (ICT) facilitates communication within families but may also displace face-to-face communication and intimacy. The aims of this systematic review were to investigate what positive and negative relationship outcomes are associated with ICT use in families, and whether and how the outcomes differ depending on relationship type (romantic relationship, parent–child relationship, or sibling). Included in the review were research published in English between 2009 and 2019 studying the effects of ICT on family relationships with quantitative data. 70 peer-reviewed articles (73 studies) were retrieved and categorized based on four types of ICT variables: personal use, personal use in the presence of a family member (technoference), communication between family members, and co-use with family members. Personal use and technoference were mostly related to negative outcomes due to, for example, displaced attention and more frequent conflicts. Romantic partners were especially strongly negatively affected displaying stressors unique to romantic relationships, such as infidelity. By contrast, communication and co-use showed mostly positive effects across all relationship types. In particular, “rich” communication media resembling face-to-face interaction were strongly associated with positive outcomes. We conclude that ICT impacts family relations in different ways, depending on both the type of relationship and type of ICT use. Personal ICT use tends to weaken both parenting and romantic relationships in ways that can partly be mitigated by co-use and communication. Directions for future research include, assessing how often ICT is used in relationship-strengthening versus relationship-interfering ways, investigating causal pathways between ICT use and relationship quality, and focusing on understudied relationship types, such as siblings and grandparents.
... The growing body of literature on family and information and communication technologies that has emerged in recent years indicates that parents use social media as a source for parenting information (for a review, see Dworkin et al., 2018). In particular, firsttime mothers have been found to participate in blogging to connect with others and achieve social support (McDaniel et al., 2012). Distinct from other online communication, mommy blogs consist of everyday experience written up by women "for whom parenthood is a key identity component" (Morrison, 2010), with posts presented in reverse chronological order. ...
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Intensive mothering is a cultural model of appropriate childrearing according to which mothers should unselfishly make a tremendous investment in their child. Using a mixed methodology, we examined the relevance of this ideology to understand the persistence of gender inequality. A content analysis of the most popular French mommy blogs indicates that this ideology remains commonplace, and has even incorporated contemporary concerns regarding sustainable development. Besides the expected themes of the sacredness of the child, the primary responsibility of the mother, and the use of intensive methods for all aspects of childrearing, the analysis of blog posts highlights new themes, including the sacredness of home, need for balance, and the praise of fathers. Furthermore, mommy blogs, as public online diaries involving everyday experience, prompt mothers to confess their failure to comply with intensive mothering demands and, at the same time, to reaffirm their commitment to its principles. Social influence is evidenced by the comments in response to the posts, which demonstrate polarization toward intensive mothering among the readers. A survey study further demonstrates that this ideology is positively related to a series of gender hierarchy-enhancing beliefs and attitudes. As a whole, the present research indicates that intensive mothering should be considered a system justifying ideology, while mommy blogs provide a platform for its diffusion and strengthening.
Social media has drastically increased the amount of parenting content that mothers encounter in their day-to-day lives. Among this content is an abundance of idealized portrayals of motherhood, which may be putting increased pressure on mothers and negatively affecting their mental health. This study was designed to provide evidence that new mothers make comparisons to motherhood portrayals on social media and that exposure to idealized portrayals can have harmful effects. In an online experiment, 464 new mothers (i.e., mothers with a child 3 years old or younger) in the United States were exposed to 20 Instagram posts portraying motherhood that varied in idealization (i.e., idealized vs. non-idealized portrayal) and source (i.e., posted by a mommy influencer vs. an everyday mother). The mothers then responded to measures including state social comparison, perceived similarity, envy, and state anxiety. The findings illustrate that new mothers make greater social comparisons and perceive more similarity to portrayals that are non-idealized (vs. idealized) and to portrayals that are from everyday social media mothers (vs. mommy influencers). Regardless of the source (everyday mother or mommy influencer), idealized posts cause significantly higher levels of envy and state anxiety, which may be detrimental to mothers’ mental health.
This study examines thematic content and discourse surrounding multiracial socialization between Black and non‐Black multiracial families on multiracial mommy blogs. Mommy blogs have been recognized as a medium through which mothers challenge dominant representations of motherhood, create community with other mothers, and seek out advice. But little is known about how mothers write about and discuss race, racism, and multiracial socialization online. This study addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing how a niche of bloggers—mothers to multiracial children—construct narratives surrounding race, multiraciality, and multiracial socialization online and how their narratives differ by the racial makeup of the blogger's family. Using a MultiCrit framework, this study analyzes 13 mommy blogs written by mothers of color with multiracial children. Blogs were analyzed for thematic content related to race, racial identification, multiraciality, and multiracial socialization. The findings demonstrate that mothers' orientations to multiracial socialization vary depending on whether the blogger has Black or non‐Black multiracial children. Bloggers who are mothers to Black multiracial children blogged frequently about their engagement in safety socialization, whereas mothers with non‐Black multiracial children did not. The stark difference between thematic content from bloggers with and without Black multiracial children highlights the differing experiences among Black and non‐Black multiracial people, for mothers of Black multiracial children, and the implications anti‐Black racism has on family processes.
Sharenting (using social media to share content about one's child) is a progressively common phenomenon enabled by society's increased connection to digital technology. Although it can encourage positive connections to others, it also creates concerns related to children's privacy and well‐being. In this paper, we establish boundaries and terminology related to sharenting in an evolving digital world. We conceptualize a modern sharenting ecosystem involving key stakeholders (parents, children, community, commercial institutions, and policymakers), by applying consumer vulnerability theory to explore the increased online connection that occurs as work, school, and socialization become increasingly more virtual. Next, we expand the characterization of sharenting by introducing a spectrum of sharenting awareness that categorizes three types of sharenting (active, passive, and invisible). Finally, we provide a research agenda for policymakers and consumer welfare researchers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The authors report an examination of Limbu poets' experiences of using Facebook to share Limbu poems expecting to promote their Indigenous language, literature, and culture, and preserve Indigenous identities. We employed online semi-structured interviews with participants and observation of their Facebook walls to gather qualitative data. We discuss how the Limbu poets attempted to promote their Limbu language through Facebook. Limbu poets used their Indigenous poems to inform and promote the value of their language and to preserve Indigenous cultural values. The poetic creation in the Limbu language received significant responses from readers, however, far less than the poems in Nepali and English. This result may have occurred because many members of the Limbu community might not have understood Limbu poems. It demonstrates the decline of Limbu, one of the Indigenous languages in Nepal, and the challenge of preserving and promoting the language. Limbu poets' more organized and innovative ways of using Facebook for promoting their Indigenous language may help them achieve their aim to restore their language.
In the interconnected family context, caregivers' digital media use holds important implications for children's developmental outcomes via parent-child relationships. This may be particularly salient during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when caregivers were more reliant on technology than ever before. This study examined caregivers' psychological well-being, digital media use, and parenting practices, with a particular focus on specific aspects of media use. Caregivers (n = 549) with at least two children aged 5–18 participated in a multinational project examining family functioning and well-being amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents completed questionnaires assessing their psychological distress, media use habits, and parenting practices. Comparisons of structural regression models revealed that operationalizing caregivers' media use as a single general construct disregards important nuances in its relations to psychological distress and parenting. In a more detailed model, higher psychological distress was related to more screen time and media use for relaxation. Intrusions of media in interactions with family members and media use for relaxation were associated with lower-quality parenting. Lastly, less distressed caregivers were more likely to use media for maintaining social connections, which was associated with more positive and less negative parenting practices. These findings offer insight into how caregivers may be relying on media to cope during the pandemic and the implications of these behaviors for parent-child relationships, particularly during times of stress and adversity.
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“Sharenting” is an internet trend in which parents report detailed information or repeatedly post pictures, videos, and other content about their children on social media. Due to the duality of sharenting, which takes place online but has offline consequences, it is essential to understand the implications of sharenting for real-world parenting and child development. The present work analyzes references in the existing literature and links among published articles to better understand sharenting, evidence for it, and major topics associated with it and to uncover the gaps in the literature. Citation analysis of the current literature mainly focuses on risks and benefits related to sharenting practices, especially for the children, and on ethical and privacy concerns. Future studies should investigate the psychological mechanisms that drive sharenting-related behaviors in parents and multidisciplinary approaches to the phenomenon. With a broader perspective on these issues, practitioners and professionals in family studies will be able to delineate guidelines for informative interventions to increase awarenes about the causes and consequences of publicly sharing child content.
Written by nationally recognized anthropologists Conrad Kottak and Lara Descartes, this ethnography of largely white, middle class families in a town in the midwest explores the role that the media play in influencing how those families cope with everyday work/family issues. The book insightfully reports that families struggle with, and make work/family decisions based largely on the images and ideas they receive from media sources, though they strongly deny being so influenced. An ideal book for teaching undergraduate family, media, and methods courses.
This article reports on a beginning study of minor daily stresses associated with parenting, and how the perception of minor stresses may be mediated by parental social support networks and social cognitive level. Daily hassles of parenting were assessed in three groups of mothers and fathers with children 9-12, 18-24, and 30-36 months old, along with measures of social support, social cognitive level, and parental satisfaction. Results indicated that reported hassles were significantly greater with increasing child age, although fathers and mothers did not differ in the overall amount of hassle they perceived. Both mothers' and fathers' perception of parenting hassles were related to indices of support and social cognition, although differential patterns of relations were found across ages and between mothers and fathers. Parental social support moderated the effect of minor stresses for some outcomes. The results are discussed in relation to their implications for determinants of parenting and family processes influencing children's relationships with their parents.
This paper critically examines the operationalization of marital quality indices used as dependent variables. First, it looks at the functioning and construction of marital quality variables. In particular, Spanier's Dyadic Adjustment Scale is used to illustrate the arguments. Second, it presents both semantic and empirical criteria to judge the development of a marital quality index. Finally, it presents a Quality Marriage Index (QMI) based on the introduced criteria. This index was constructed using data from 430 people across four states. Several advantages of the QMI over more traditional measures are shown in terms of how covariates relate to the index.
The question of how to best measure family processes so that longitudinal experiences within the family are accurately captured has become an important issue for family scholars. Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2,158), this article focuses on the association between trajectories of perceived supportiveness from biological fathers and mothers’ mental health problems 5 years after a birth. The relationship status between mothers and biological fathers is significantly related to her perceptions of his supportiveness, with married mothers reporting the highest levels of supportiveness followed by mothers in cohabiting unions, romantic non-coresidential unions, and, finally, mothers not in a romantic relationship. Controlling for both time-varying and time-invariant maternal and relationship characteristics, a positive slope of perceived supportiveness from biological fathers is associated with fewer subsequent mental health problems 5 years after the birth. The discussion calls attention to alternate modeling strategies for longitudinal family experiences.
The aim of this three-wave cross-lagged longitudinal study was to examine the prospective relationships between women’s goal-related spousal support and their relationship satisfaction during the transition to parenthood. Two-hundred and forty-six Finnish women who were either married or cohabited (45% primiparous; 55% multiparous) filled in questionnaires on personal projects (Little, 1983) and related spousal support, relationship satisfaction (Spanier, 1976), and background data three times: in their early pregnancy; one month before childbirth; and three months after childbirth. Among the primiparous women the results showed a cumulative cycle of goal-related spousal support and relationship satisfaction: goal-related spousal support in early pregnancy predicted higher relationship satisfaction just before childbirth, and, vice versa, relationship satisfaction in early pregnancy predicted higher goal-related spousal support just before childbirth. In turn, among the multiparous women only relationship satisfaction predicted goal-related support later on. In addition, the results showed that women perceived low spousal support for individualistic goals, such as self-related goals, and high support for shared goals, such as family-related goals.
Activists working online have recognized the potential of the Internet as a force for social change. Women are using the technology as a form of empowerment, by creating women's venues, resources, and networks for organizing. Meanwhile, policies to bring about a connected society have not used a gender-based analysis in the planning and implementation of "public" resources. The discrepancy between the growing expectation of greater democratic participation through the use of Internet resources, and the discouraging reality of the promotion of inequality through the lack of the use of a gender-based analysis, has resulted in growing tension over information/communications technology (ICT) resource allocation. Networking and strategizing among women and women's groups have led to activism, such as the Women's Internet Campaign, which addresses ICT as a women's rights issue.