The Significance Of Social Media For Motherhood

''Even on those days when we can’t escape the four walls of our homes and those walls are seemingly closing in on us, we can hop on our computers and find a community of support. For those few moments, we have a break from the loud monotony of raising our children.''

Social media networks have changed the forms of knowledge and communication. They present a great deal of information, as well as a diversity of the content provided. Online communities provide a place where a group of people with same interests interact and communicate together For instance, these groups would be academic, healthy, fashion and motherhood online groups.

Consequently, Mothers are increasingly turning to social media, spending an average between one and three hours a day using their Facebook as their main platform to connect with other mothers as an avenue for social support. Recent years have seen a growing awareness of the difficulties faced by new mothers, which has manifested itself in the online sphere by the rise of numerous parenting websites, Facebook support groups, ‘mummy/mommy blogs’ and ‘Instagram mum’ profiles.

New mothers feel depressed, stressed and isolated in homes, which cause them to have negative attitudes and behaviours in their relationships with the baby, the husband and the outside world. Facebook is one of many sources for getting parenting advice, receiving information, giving support and asking parenting questions. 

Thus, the purpose of this research is to clarify how social media has a significant impact on first-time mothers, which give them a platform to share their similar experiences, exchange parenting information and support each other. 

Rachel Clawson Nielsen in ''New Mothers and Social Media: The Effects of Social Media Consumption and Production on Social Support and Parental Stress'' analyze active production on social media and how it influences perception of social support and parental stress in first-time mothers. She indicates that for first-time mothers, production on social media can lead to increase feedback, which can then lead to an increased perception of appraisal support. During the transition to parenthood, which can be difficult for many women, it may be valuable for first-time mothers to share information on social media in order for them to feel that they have people they can turn to as they learn their roles and responsibilities.

''While the arrival of a new child is often welcomed with great joy and excitement, it can also be a time of great upheaval for new parents – particularly mothers''. This is how Catherine Archer and Kai-Ti Kao begin their article, ''Mother, baby and Facebook make three: does social media provide social support for new mothers?'' This article discusses the findings from 10 groups conducted with mothers of young children. The majority of them used Facebook as their main social media platform. Thus, it has shown that mothers see social media in general, and Facebook in particular as a part of their parenting experience.

Their motivations for using Facebook ranged from social support and connection and support to family and friends, access to news and information, and following organizations or particular influencers. The study found that online forms of social media have several benefits over physical groups. Access to information and shared experiences can be particularly empowering during the early childhood period. New mothers can identify their own needs, manage stress and respond more effectively during times of stress. However, Archer and Kae have argued that this is not something that is achieved easily, as women often need access

to a wide range of motherhood experiences to realize this, which is not always accessible through their immediate social networks or local communities.

Although Facebook functions as a main platform for mothers, other studies examine that blogging may impact feelings of connection and social support. Brandon T. McDaniel, Erin K. Holmes and Sarah Coyne [have explained] in their research ''New Mothers and Media Use: Associations Between Blogging, Social Networking, and Maternal Well-Being'' that blogging may improve new mothers' well-being, as they feel more connected to the world outside their homes through the Internet. The aim of their study is to examine whether perception in blogging is associated with maternal well-being. They focus on first-time mothers, and identify mothers' reasons for blogging. The results reveal that mothers spent around three hours per day on the Internet. Mothers who frequently read blogs stay in touch with their family and friends, and this consequently influences their feelings of social support.

Another study ''Social capital and social support on the web: the case of an internet mother site'' by Patricia Drentea Jennifer L. Moren‐ Cross finds that a virtual community of new mothers increases social capital during a time when women are isolated as new mothers. They identify social capital as a support group provides information in a certain community for a purposeful action. Social capital works through emotional support and information-given, which decreases the stress of these mothers and provide valuable information regarding the care of their children.

The last study deals with the ways in which digital media have been used for parenting-related purposes. ''Parenting and Digital Media: From the Early Web to Contemporary Digital Society'' in a study conducted by three authors Deborah Lupton, Sarah Pedersen and Gareth M. Thomas. The study focuses on the established media of parenting websites, online discussion forums, blogs, email, mobile phones and messages and video services and then moves on to the newer technologies of social media and apps. The authors figure out that digital media is an important source of information, emotional support and advice for pregnancy and parenting.

To sum up, the aim of this literature review was to help the reader in realizing what other studies cover related to the daily use of social media on first-time mothers. Moreover, those studies will help me in my further researches because they include information from different surveys about the social support, maternal stress and parenting information that new mothers receive. 

09 March 2021
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