Parenting in the age of social media
Opportunities or disruptions?
Exploring the impact and influence of social media on Australian parents’ experiences of early parenting
Parenting is the core driver of children’s health and development. Parenting is shaped by multiple contexts including social and cultural environments. Recently, one of the most pervasive and ubiquitous socio-cultural environments for parents has been online. Technological advancements in the availability, accessibility and penetration of social media have changed parents’ access to information and support. Social media has disrupted the traditional contexts of parenting, but for better or worse? How much is parenting influenced by social media? This innovative research will explore how social media is shaping parenting and identify the impacts of this technological transformation for Australian parents.
Little is known about Australian parents’ use and experiences of social media during the transition to parenthood, or the role of social media on new parents’ social and emotional wellbeing, parenting self-efficacy, and decision-making. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the influence of social media on Australian parents’ experiences of early parenthood, social and emotional wellbeing and parenting self-efficacy, as well as shaping parenting attitudes, decision-making and behaviours.
Funding: The research project is funded by La Trobe University, Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area, Scheme 2, 2018.
A two-phase, mixed methods research design was undertaken:
Phase 1: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with parents of young children (aged 0-2 years) and expectant parents in the third trimester of pregnancy in 2019. A total of 24 participants shared their experiences of social media and the benefits and challenges of using social media during the transition to parenthood.
Phase 2: A cross-sectional, national online survey was conducted with parents of young children (aged 0-2 years) and expectant parents in 2021. Over 600 people took part in the survey, which explored participants’ social media use, perceived parenting norms on social media, attitudes towards social media for parenting/pregnancy purposes, parenting self-efficacy, and mental health and wellbeing.
Data collection for Phases 1 and 2 is complete, and data analyses and manuscript preparation are underway.
Early key findings from the qualitative interview study have been prepared as a Research Summary [PDF 276KB] and shared with study participants. Findings from the survey will be shared when they become available.
Findings are being disseminated at national and international conferences, including Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference 2022 and 12th International Conference on Social Media & Society.
La Trobe University
- Dr Sharinne Crawford
- Dr Stacey Hokke
- Dr Amanda Cooklin
- Dr Shannon Bennetts
- Ms Tess Crane
- Professor Jan Nicholson
Australian Catholic University
- Dr Kimberley Mallan [external link]