Yesterday was Mother’s Day and if you’re on Facebook, you had a chance to see pictures of most of your friend’s mothers. Just about everyone I know - including me - posted either a recent or vintage photo of their mom. It was really quite sweet to see the impact that people’s mothers have had on them and to read the loving posts reaffirming their devotion. There were photos of new mothers, middle-aged mothers and old mothers. Mothers that are no longer with us (like mine) and substitute mothers that have stepped up to the plate when they were needed. It was a social media mother blitz.
When my child was little I didn’t have social media to share thoughts and activities and to ask questions about child rearing.
I found myself somewhat isolated and wondering if I was doing everything right. Fortunately, I did have a phone and a mother I could call.
Moms now have the Internet, social media and blogging to help walk them through all the stages of childhood development and it’s actually proving quite beneficial.
A 2012 study says blogs, in particular, may help mothers feel less alone and more connected with family and friends. According to the study’s findings, whether they are readers or writers, moms who are participating in supportive parenting blogs are less stressed.
"It looks like blogging might be helping these women as they transition into motherhood because they may begin to feel more connected to their extended family and friends, which leads them to feel more supported," said Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies at Penn State. "That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they're feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression."
The Brigham Young University researchers surveyed 157 new mothers about their media use and their well-being. The moms were all first-time parents with only one child under the age of 18 months: most much younger than this.
Study participants completed an online survey that focused on two main subjects: their media use and their well-being. Mothers rated their feelings on scales corresponding to each item. Moms also tallied time spent on different activities throughout the day, including sleep, housework, childcare tasks and computer usage. They reported spending about three hours per day on the computer, using the Internet -- behind only childcare, at almost nine hours a day, and sleep, at about seven hours per day.
Researchers found that blogging had a positive impact on the new mothers, while basic social networking – like Facebook and MySpace- had little impact on their happiness.
"We're not saying that those who end up feeling more supported all of a sudden no longer have stresses, they're still going to have those stressful moments you have as a parent," said McDaniel. "But because they're feeling more supported, their thoughts and their feelings about that stress might change, and they begin to feel less stressed about those things."
The findings noted that stay-at-home moms, in particular, found blogging worked well as a creative outlet where they could share their hobbies, interests, accomplishments and stay in touch with other new mothers as well as extended family and friends.
Of the 157 surveyed participants, sixty-one percent wrote their own blogs and seventy-six percent read blogs. Eighty-nine percent of the mothers who wrote their own blogs did so to "document personal experiences or share them with others," and eighty-nine percent wanted to stay in touch with family and friends through the blog.
Since blogging is relatively new, there haven’t been very many studies to look into the effects of participation in the online communication phenomenon. McDaniel notes there isn’t enough information collected yet to determine why social networking and blogging have such a different impact on new moms.
My unscientific guess would be that writing and journaling are both creative outlets. They give the writer a voice and a sense of participation with others. New mothers climb a mountain of uncertainty every day. They hope each step takes them to the corner of good parenting and safe choices. Sharing those steps with others and receiving helpful feedback just feels better.
Social networking, on the other hand, can feel more like sitting in a room with hundreds of people who may or may not be listening to you. More often than not, they’re just waiting to tell you what they had for lunch, what happened to them while they were driving, or sharing their opinion on the latest celebrity or political crisis. It’s just not the same.
I wish I had something like blogging when my child was a newborn and when she was a teenager. I would’ve been burning up the keys with questions and thoughts and pictures to share.
I love the idea that moms now have the opportunity to share their experiences with other mothers around the world. You can write your blog in Dallas, Texas and get feedback from a mom in Sydney, Australia. How amazing is that?
And what about “dad blogs”? I’m sure that new fathers are also finding blogging helpful, although this study only looked at new moms. Dads have their own set of special interests and questions and feelings that deserve an outlet…Maybe another study at another time.
While these findings show that blogging may be more helpful in the long run for new moms – you got to give it social networking when it comes to sharing photos and appreciation on a holiday!
I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day.