Survey: Social Media Offers Valuable Support for Parents


A survey published by the Pew Research Center discovered that parents have smaller Facebook friends networks, but a higher percentage of them were "actual" friends than among non-parents. Of the parents involved in the survey, 75% use social media, which is higher than the 66% of adults in general who use social networking sites, reports Elizabeth Weise of USA Today.

"Mothers are particularly likely to use social media as a place where they both give and receive support, said Maeve Duggan, co-author on the report. ""In terms of the social support, this is sort of a new approach for parents."

In the past, parents had a community of neighbors, friends, and family. Now, according to the survey, 45% of moms said they "strongly agreed" that they get support from social media, and 22% of dads say the same.

Dads do use social media, but they are less likely to ask parenting questions, research parenting information, and receive emotional support. Most parents agreed that this practice is just an extension of everyday life.

Duggan said 88% of parents said they had never felt uncomfortable about something someone had posted about their child online, while 12% said they had. Eleven percent had asked someone to take down something posted about their child.

On Facebook, a typical parent had 150 friends, a third of whom were "actual" friends. Non-parents had larger Facebook networks, with an average of 200 friends, but only 40 were "actual" friends.

"So you're seeing parents nurture a really tight network," said Duggan.

The survey was done in connection with the University of Michigan's School of Information and involved a nationally representative sample of 2,003 American adults 18 and older.

Seventy-five per cent of parents log on to Facebook each day, according to The Economic Times of India. Only 51% use social media several times a day. Sixty-seven percent of non-parents check Facebook each day, and 42% check multiple times daily.

Up to 81% of parents attempt to respond to their friends' good news posts, and 58% say they respond to bad news. Of the parents surveyed, 74% have received support from Facebook friends. Seventy-nine percent of parents who use social media have found useful information on Facebook, and more than half have found useful parenting advice, the survey shows.

David Cohen, writing for Adweek Blog Network's Social Times, says the friendship patterns in the survey differ between parents and non-parents. Parents are more likely to be friends online with their own parents and with neighbors, but non-parents are likely to be friends with their real-life friends.

Other findings include that 31% of social media using moms and dads have posted parenting questions on their online networks and 71% of all parents try to respond to questions posted by people in their online networks if they know the answers.

"The value parents find in social media echoes what we've found in a broader population–it's an effective way to share information and connect with others. Many parents may have already been social media users before having children, and they've adapted these advantages to their new scenarios," said Duggan in a release introducing the study.

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