PEW Research Center study reveals how parents – 75% of whom use social media – turn to social media for parenting-related information and social support.
Mothers are heavily engaged on social media, both giving and receiving a high level of support via their networks.
Social media networks are host to a wide range of human experiences; they help connect people with one another in both good times and bad. Parents – in this study defined as those with children under 18 – are especially likely to try to respond to the good news others post, answer others’ questions or receive support via online networks. This is true for all kinds of personal matters they encounter – not just parenting posts. While somewhat less common, a majority of parents agree that they try to respond to bad news as well. Mothers are more likely than fathers to engage their networks across a variety of these outreach and support examples:
- 81% of parents who use social media try to respond to good news others share in their networks, including 45% of social-media-using parents who “strongly agree” that they do so. Some 53% of mothers say they “strongly agree,” compared with 33% of fathers who say that.
- 74% of parents who use social media get support from their friends there.2 Digging into the data, 35% of social-media-using parents “strongly agree” that they get support from friends on social media. Fully 45% of mothers who use social media “strongly agree” that they get support from friends on social media, compared with just 22% of fathers.
- 71% of all parents on social media try to respond if they know the answer to a question posed by someone in their online network. About a third (32%) of parents who use social media “strongly agree” that they try to respond to questions. Mothers and fathers are relatively similar in their responsiveness to questions on social media; 35% of mothers say they “strongly agree” that they make an effort to respond to questions, compared with 28% of fathers.
- 58% of parents who use social media try to respond when a friend or acquaintance shares bad news online. Mothers are particularly likely to “strongly agree” that they try to do this – 31% say so, compared with 21% of fathers.
Social media is broadly viewed as a source of useful information and as one parenting tool among a collection of options. Mothers use it as a parenting resource slightly more often than fathers.
While a large share of parents find value in social media as a general information resource, fewer say they come across useful parenting information while using social media. At the same time, one-in-four say they get support from their networks for parenting issues, and mothers who use social media are more than three times as likely as fathers to say they get support.
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