Are social networks reliable allies for young parents?

Are social networks reliable allies for young parents?

Health, nutrition, behavior, learning: have social media become parents’ main allies in education? Everything suggests this in light of a recent survey conducted among young American parents. They are increasingly turning to these platforms for advice on these subjects, even if they are aware of finding a lot of erroneous information there.

A national survey conducted in the United States by the University of Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s Hospital reveals that social media is an increasingly popular source of information and advice among parents of young children. The survey, which involved 614 parents of at least one child aged 0-4, reveals that four in five parents turn to social media for answers about parenting, and to share their experiences. “A significant increase compared to a similar survey carried out in 2015“, specify the authors of this survey in a press release.

Accessible, fast, and practical…

The survey notably lifts the veil on the topics most commonly discussed on social platforms, namely toilet training (44%), children’s sleep (42%), nutrition or breastfeeding (37%) , discipline (37%), vaccination (26%), or even childcare (24%). And if parents turn to social networks to address these questions, it is mainly to benefit from different points of view (around 60%), while a smaller proportion mentions the practical nature of these media (25%). Many find them useful for feeling less isolated, learning from the experiences of others and getting advice on whether or not to buy certain products. Please note, however, that for health-related questions, it is recommended to consult a qualified professional directly.

Many parents turn to online communities to exchange advice or discuss parenting challenges because it can seem quicker and easier than seeking the advice of a medical professional“, explains Sarah Clark, researcher and co-director of the Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. And adds: “Finding some sort of parental camaraderie in this space can be beneficial, but parents should keep in mind that every family’s experience is different and not everything they hear online is necessarily accurate or consistent. not what is needed for their child“.

…but not always reliable

A notable concern among parents is the phenomenon of “sharenting”, a contraction of “share” and “parenting” which results in the sharing of children’s personal information or images on social media. A practice which raises, among other things, confidentiality problems. Many are particularly concerned about the excessive sharing by some parents of information about their children (around 80%), the risk of revealing too much personal information (around 60%), the sharing of false or misleading information (nearly 50 %), or even inappropriate photos (more than 25%).

A problem that pushes more than half of parents to set up confidentiality settings or limit the people who can have access to this type of publications. Nearly a third of parents choose to simply avoid posting photos or videos of their children. “Families should consider whether their child might ever be embarrassed by personal information being shared without their consent; if you have any doubt, don’t share them. Parents should also seek permission from the parents of other children in the photos before posting them on social media.“, continues Sarah Clark.

Who says social networks, also says the need to distinguish the true from the false, especially when it comes to subjects relating to children. Around 40% of parents find it difficult to distinguish between good and bad advice. This is especially true for first-time parents. “Social media is a convenient way for parents to seek out information about parenting challenges in real time, especially between doctor visits. But it is important for parents to identify reliable sources of information about children’s health and education, and to consult these sources before trying new strategies with their own child.“, concludes the coordinator of this survey.