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Most parents who use social media today find information about raising children through their networking sites and care little about what information friends and family share on social media about their kids, a new study finds.
A new study out today from the Pew Research Center explores how parents use social media and offers insight into how that might influence the way people raise their families.
Of parents who use social media and have children under the age of 18, roughly eight out of 10 said they find helpful information through social networking sites. However, 59 percent of parents said they recently found useful tips about raising their children while browsing social networking sites. Roughly one-third of parents who use social media said they crowdsourced parenting advice and questions recently, and moms were just as likely as dads to do so.
These sites aren’t a one-stop shop for parenting predicaments, says Maeve Duggan, a research associate with the Pew Research Center.
“We found that social media is just one tool in the parenting toolkit,” Duggan said. “Three-quarters of parents who use social media agree that they get useful information from social media in general but not exclusively.”
About four out of 10 parents said they received emotional support from their social networks, the study says.
Moms are more likely than dads to seek support on social media, the study says. Interestingly, half of all social media-savvy moms find emotional support from friends in their networks, significantly more than 28 percent of dads who say the same, the study finds.
That aligns with trends on how prevalent social media use is between women and men, Duggan said. However, a gendered difference in people’s social media engagement could be changing, she suggested.
“Women have historically been more likely to use social media, but that gap is beginning to close. Social media is becoming more ubiquitous,” Duggan explained.
Roughly one-third of parents who use social media said they crowdsourced parenting advice and questions recently, and moms were just as likely as dads to do so.
When family and friends share information about a parent’s own child on social media, few take issue with it, something that surprised Duggan, she explained..
“Something I found really interesting was that parents show relatively low levels of concern about what others post on social media,” she said.
How low was the level of concern? In the study, only one out of 10 parents said they had a problem with friends and family posting information about a parent’s child. The vast majority of parents, or 88 percent, said they’ve never felt this way.
For this study, Pew Research Center partnered with the University of Michigan School of Information to field a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 adults. Among all U.S. adults, two-thirds use at least one social media platform, such as Facebook, which was the most popular platform, as well as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
Laura Santhanam is the Data Producer for the PBS NewsHour. Follow @LauraSanthanam
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