Social media, a term that is used to define communicating and networking with others through the internet using a website site such as Facebook or Twitter, has completely changed the world. In particular, it’s influence on parenting is enormous. I instinctively keep things to 140 characters and assume everyone I meet can be added to my list of friends on Facebook. Social media has influenced my life in every respect, some things for the better, and some things for the worse. So how exactly does social media influence parenting?
When it comes to parenting, social media sites are my ‘go-to’ resource. Perhaps traditional parenting books will always maintain their own strong following, but social media is giving them a run for their money.
As soon as we decided we would try to conceive, the internet was the first place I looked for information. I joined online forums where I could connect with other moms, who then invited me to join multiple Facebook pages and follow many Twitter handles. I became a thirsty sponge for knowledge about everything baby related as soon as we decided to attempt having a baby. My uterus wasn’t even occupied yet, but I was already joining Breastfeeding Support pages on Facebook in hopes that one day I would have these ladies around to help me.
In general, social media has influenced my parenting for the better. Pregnancy and parenting unite people. You could have absolutely nothing else in common with another person except that you both have a child or are pregnant and suddenly you are so very much the same.
It was through social media that I was able to find people going through the same experiences I was, and was able to connect with them. I had no friends who were pregnant and was looking to talk to someone besides my husband and mom. I joined an amazing Facebook group for moms who were all due within the same month. We supported each other, grieved many losses, celebrated healthy births, asked thousands of questions that we were too embarrassed to even ask our own doctors, and even collected money for a mom who lost everything when she came home to an empty house. I’ve never met these women in my life but I gladly handed over $20 to help this woman I had come to ‘know’. That’s how powerful social media is.
When I was having difficulty in the early days of breastfeeding, I knew at any time of day I could go on Twitter, ask a world renowned breastfeeding expert a question and have an answer almost immediately. Any stressed out mom sitting on the couch at 3am, looking for reassurance that everything is going to be alright, can connect on Twitter and feel better instantly through the right connections.
I have built my Twitter followers to include many different people but have made sure I have a lot of moms so when I put my question out there, someone can answer it for me.
The downside of social media (in terms of parenting) is that it can also portray inaccurate information. I have friends who, according to Facebook, look like they have it all together. It seems like they have it all: a great marriage, beautiful children, a home, and a stable career. But I know the truth: they’re battling depression, their father is dying a slow death, and they have been suffering from infertility issues. Facebook and Pinterest specifically (because of the graphics) can make you feel like less of a mother for not having a perfectly clean house, for not wearing makeup all the time, or for not having the extra money for that amazing family vacation that everyone else is going on.
Social media has the potential to draw out the angry green monster in all of us. As parents, we should never compare our parenting to someone else. If breastfeeding works for you, but your friend announces via social media that they formula feed, who are you to judge? Every child, family, and situation is different. Unfortunately, these are difficult lessons to learn.
Overall, social media is a very useful tool. I can’t imagine what my life would be without pictures of my beautiful daughter plastered all over Facebook for friends and family to enjoy, what life without Twitter in general would be like, or what loosing hundreds of amazing online friendships would do to me.
I can honestly say that I am a better parent because of the knowledge I have gained and support I have been given through social media. I have friends online who know me and my daughter better than some people I see every day. Honestly, I can’t imagine my life as a mother any other way.
See how Chelsea Campbell uses social media!