Social media and parenting – it is about balance

One of Australia’s leading hospital maternity services providers, St John of God Health Care, is encouraging parents to be aware of the influence of social media on their emotional wellbeing.

St John of God Health Care social media research

The organisation released guidelines to support new parents, particularly mums, in balancing the connections and support associated with social media with awareness of the emotional risks.

This follows research by Murdoch University, conducted in partnership with St John of God Health Care and Playgroup WA, which shows new mums are increasingly using social media to connect with others and as an avenue for social support.

Facebook in particular was shown to be a major part of daily life for mothers, with 95 per cent of those involved in the study using Facebook and 92% of those accessing social media primarily on their phone or tablet.

The key findings of the study include:

  • Mums are spending an average of between one and three hours a day using Facebook
  • Motivations for using Facebook are predominantly for community, connection and support. Other motivations include to relieve boredom, to zone out, to keep up with news and find information, to 'stalk’ or check up on people and to follow a business or brand.
  • Facebook is an important source of news and information for mothers - more important than the daily newspaper or nightly TV news
  • Social media can support feelings of connection and community, but it can also contribute to unhelpful feelings in young parents, at time when many are at their most emotionally vulnerable.

“This research shows us what a strong role social media is playing in the day-to-day life of new mums,” Lead Researcher Dr Catherine Archer said.

“It’s encouraging to see St John of God Health Care share such practical guidelines for new parents on how they might be more mindful in the ways they integrate social media into their parenting world.”

Catherine explains more about what her research highlighted in her blog Social media - what is the impact on new mums?

Senior Marketing Manager Colin Wood said St John of God Health Care was well placed as a leading maternity and perinatal mental health services provider to offer guidance to parents in this area.

“Social media can be a great way for parents to interact and access information, support and care, but this research shows that there can be negative effects on emotional wellbeing too,” he said.

“As a mental health care provider, both in hospitals and in the community, we provide information and advice from our experts. These guidelines are a part of that commitment.”

Read the St John of God Health Care social media tips for parents of babies and young children.