Socially Unbiased Parenting Support on the Internet – A Cross-sectional Study of Users of a Large Swedish Parenting Website

Article · February 2005with71 Reads
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2005.00475.x · Source: PubMed
Abstract
The Internet is becoming increasingly recognized as a source of social support. Parents of children with cancer and autism have been shown to find social support online, and many parents of healthy infants and children seek information about parenting online. However, access and use of the Internet is greater among socio-economically advantaged groups, a phenomenon known as the 'digital divide'. Our aim was to investigate whether users of a Swedish general parenting website perceived support in the parenting role and, if so, whether this support was socially biased because of the digital divide phenomenon. Users of the largest Swedish parenting website were asked to participate in the study. A total of 2221 users completed the anonymous survey posted on the website during a one-week period. Most respondents (95%) were female (mean age 30.6 years). Respondents' educational level was slightly, but not significantly, higher than that in the general population, whereas 68% had income levels at or under the national average, contradicting the intuitive hypothesis that users would be socio-economically privileged. Perceived social support, measured by the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL) appraisal subscale, indicated high perceived support. Living without a partner and having lower levels of income and education increased perceived support. The perception that other parents' opinions are more valuable than the advice of experts was influential in the regression equation for ISEL scores, indicating that peer help is important in online social support. Internet use for general parenting issues in Sweden, mainly by women, does not seem to follow the digital divide phenomenon. Therefore, the internet provides an exciting opportunity for future infant and child public health work. The lack of fathers, however, was a surprising finding and introduces a gender bias into this seemingly socially unbiased medium.
    • Previous research has indicated that parents' socioeconomic status appears to relate to the 556 access and use of the internet (Martin and Robinson 2007, Rothbaum, Martland and Jannsen 557 2008); however, others have found no evidence of a socio-economic divide (Carroll et al. 558 2005, Sarkadi and Bremberg 2005). Unfortunately the nature of internet discussions meant 559 that we are unable to conclude the diversity of this sample as demographic characteristics and 560 details were not provided.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first year of a child's life is a key period of transition from an exclusive milk diet to solid foods to meet growing nutritional demands. An increased requirement for nutrients includes the introduction of protein-rich solid foods, such as seafood, which additionally provides valuable omega-3 fatty acids. However, consumption of seafood is low in the British child population. The aim of this study was to identify maternal perceptions of the factors that can influence the decision on whether to provide seafood during early years' feeding using a multi-method qualitative study design. A total of 26 discussions posted by mothers on parenting websites; Mumknowsbest, Mumsnet and Netmums, accessed July 2013, together with discussions from six focus groups (February–July 2014) in the North East of Scotland were included for thematic qualitative analysis. Discussions on the inclusion of seafood during the early years were centred across four interrelating themes; - food-related attributes, mother-centred aspects, family-centred aspects, and external information sources. Concerns regarding safety and mothers' limited knowledge and skills on seafood were apparent from discussions; however, the practicalities of providing a cost effective family meal were also issues raised by mothers. An understanding of the numerous and sometimes contradictory influences on mothers' decisions to include seafood during early years' period could be used to develop strategies to help increase regular seafood consumption. In particular, ensuring formal information and guidance clearly addresses the safety concerns of mothers and the development of practical education schemes to encourage and teach cooking skills should be considered.
    Article · Oct 2016
    • Mothers found new pages by browsing whereas fathers found a new websites using links from other pages. However, from a practical standpoint, mothers were more active in searching for educational information and, in general, they searched the Internet for more types of educational topics (Doty et al., 2012; Sarkadi & Bremberg, 2005; Stern et al., 2011). In fact, most of the parents posting on parenting discussion boards are mothers (Brady & Guerin, 2010; Madge & O'Connor, 2006).
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the existence of a digital skill divide in Internet use for parenting purposes, exploring whether child-rearing content searched, parental skills on search practices, criteria used in the evaluation of content and satisfaction with the results are modulated by socio-demographic factors and level of Internet experience. Participants were 234 Spanish parents recruited through notices in day care centers, schools and parents’ associations, who reported on these issues through an online survey. Results showed that parents were very active in searching for information on child-rearing issues. However, a digital skill divide can be seen mainly by parental education, gender and age on the content searched and perceived skills for going online. Parental age and education also shaped technical abilities such as searching practices, criteria for evaluating websites (level of confidence and relevance), and satisfaction with search results. In turn, level of experience in Internet use played a more restrictive role confined to searching practices and satisfaction with the results. The present findings may inform initiatives of Internet literacy training applied differentially to help fathers and mothers with low education and Internet experience levels to access higher quality, reliable educational content. They also may provide guidelines for those who develop websites for parents.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2016
    • Mothers found new pages by browsing whereas fathers found a new websites using links from other pages. However, from a practical standpoint, mothers were more active in searching for educational information and, in general, they searched the Internet for more types of educational topics (Doty et al., 2012; Sarkadi & Bremberg, 2005; Stern et al., 2011). In fact, most of the parents posting on parenting discussion boards are mothers (Brady & Guerin, 2010; Madge & O'Connor, 2006).
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the existence of a digital skill divide in Internet use for parenting purposes, exploring whether child-rearing content searched, parental skills on search practices, criteria used in the evaluation of content and satisfaction with the results are modulated by socio-demographic factors and level of Internet experience. Participants were 234 Spanish parents recruited through notices in day care centers, schools and parents’ associations, who reported on these issues through an online survey. Results showed that parents were very active in searching for information on child-rearing issues. However, a digital skill divide can be seen mainly by parental education, gender and age on the content searched and perceived skills for going online. Parental age and education also shaped technical abilities such as searching practices, criteria for evaluating websites (level of confidence and relevance), and satisfaction with search results. In turn, level of experience in Internet use played a more restrictive role confined to searching practices and satisfaction with the results. The present findings may inform initiatives of Internet literacy training applied differentially to help fathers and mothers with low education and Internet experience levels to access higher quality, reliable educational content. They also may provide guidelines for those who develop websites for parents.
    Article · Sep 2016
    • Mothers found new pages by browsing whereas fathers found a new websites using links from other pages. However, from a practical standpoint, mothers were more active in searching for educational information and, in general, they searched the Internet for more types of educational topics (Doty et al., 2012; Sarkadi & Bremberg, 2005; Stern et al., 2011). In fact, most of the parents posting on parenting discussion boards are mothers (Brady & Guerin, 2010; Madge & O'Connor, 2006).
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the existence of a digital skill divide in Internet use for parenting purposes, exploring whether child-rearing content searched, parental skills on search practices, criteria used in the evaluation of content and satisfaction with the results are modulated by socio-demographic factors and level of Internet experience. Participants were 234 Spanish parents recruited through notices in day care centers, schools and parents’ associations, who reported on these issues through an online survey. Results showed that parents were very active in searching for information on child-rearing issues. However, a digital skill divide can be seen mainly by parental education, gender and age on the content searched and perceived skills for going online. Parental age and education also shaped technical abilities such as searching practices, criteria for evaluating websites (level of confidence and relevance), and satisfaction with search results. In turn, level of experience in Internet use played a more restrictive role confined to searching practices and satisfaction with the results. The present findings may inform initiatives of Internet literacy training applied differentially to help fathers and mothers with low education and Internet experience levels to access higher quality, reliable educational content. They also may provide guidelines for those who develop websites for parents.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2016
    • El contenido del primer factor hace alusión tanto a la participación propia como a la recomendación a otras personas que visiten recursos web de apoyo parental, además de la valoración positiva de dichos recursos. Esto indica que es muy importante que los padres acudan a Internet como una fuente de información y apoyo a su tarea parental (Nieuwboer et al., 2013b; Plantin y Daneback, 2009; Sarkadi y Bremberg, 2005). El contenido del segundo factor hace referencia a la práctica de acudir a Internet para recibir apoyo de expertos o de otros padres, así como para dar apoyo y recibir consejos específicamente de temas educativos.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Este artículo describe la validación de una escala para evaluar el apoyo social online que perciben los usuarios de recursos web en español para padres y madres. Responde así a la necesidad de crear un instrumento específico que permita captar la complejidad de este nuevo constructo. Para la validación de la Escala de Apoyo Parental Online (EAPO) se contó con 301 padres y madres españoles y latinoamericanos, que se matricularon en el programa online 'Educar en Positivo' (http://educarenpositivo.es), quedando registradas automáticamente las respuestas al cuestionario en una base de datos al comienzo de su participación. La estructura factorial se obtuvo a través de la técnica de modelo de ecuaciones estructurales exploratorio (MESE) con rotación oblimin y el método de estimación de ponderación de mínimos cuadrados ajustado por la media y la varianza (WLSMW) para su confirmación. Los resultados principales muestran una factorización óptima en el constructo de un modelo de cinco factores con una fiabilidad adecuada, que tratan de la participación en programas o recursos para obtener apoyo parental online, el intercambio de consejos con otros padres y con expertos en educación, la autoeficacia parental percibida, las habilidades de parentalidad positiva y el apoyo emocional. Los resultados sugieren que la escala captura adecuadamente las dimensiones hipotetizadas para el constructo de apoyo social online para el fomento de la parentalidad positiva y muestra unas propiedades psicométricas adecuadas que lo hacen recomendable para su uso en el ámbito de los recursos web para padres y madres.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2016
    • Studies investigating parents' opinions on the use of information found on the internet, for common symptoms in infants, and the way in which this influenced their health care utilisation are lacking. Due to the large amount of information that can be found on the internet, the high percentage of parents who are using the internet for health care information,[9][10][11]and the usually self-limiting nature of symptoms in infants, it was suggested that this may influence their decision whether or not to consult a physician. However, this study indicated that the decision to consult a physician appeared to be already made before consulting the internet and whatever information was found did not influence this decision.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: Internet plays a huge role in providing information about health care problems. However, it is unknown how parents use and perceive the internet as a source of information and how this influences health care utilisation when it comes to common complaints in infants. The objective was to evaluate the perception parents have on the role of internet in providing health care information on common symptoms in infants and its effects on health care utilisation. Design: A qualitative design was chosen. Setting and subjects: Parents were recruited from a population-based birth-cohort and selected purposefully. Main outcome measures: Semi-structured interviews were used to receive information of parents' ideas. Thematic coding and constant comparison were used for interview transcript analysis. Results: Ten parents were interviewed. Parents felt anxious and responsible when their child displayed common symptoms, and appeared to be in need of information. They tried to obtain information from relatives, but more so from the internet, because of its accessibility. Nevertheless, information found on the internet had several limitations, evoked new doubts and insecurity and although parents compared information from multiple sources, only the physician was able to take away the insecurity. The internet did not interfere in the decision to consult the physician. Conclusions: Parents need information about their children's symptoms and the internet is a major resource. However, only physicians could take away their symptom-related doubts and insecurities and internet information did not play a role in parental decision making. Information gathered online may complement the information from physicians, rather than replace it. Key points Internet plays an increasing role in providing health care information but it is unknown how this influences health care utilisation. Our study suggests that: Parents need information about their children's symptoms and the internet is a major resource. However, only physicians could take away their symptom-related doubts and insecurities. Internet information did not play a role in parental decision making.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016
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