They say it takes a village to raise a child. But whoever “they” are, they certainly came up with that saying before the advent of social media. You know, before moms everywhere posted every single thing their kids ate/said/wore/did that minute of the day for their closest 200-odd acquaintances to see.
It’s no secret that many moms — especially new moms — tend to overshare on Facebook when it comes to their kids. Or that childless friends have long found the practice annoying. As it turns out, we should cut all social media-happy moms some slack, because according to research, they may subconsciously be looking for validation in this judgey, mom-eat-mom world.
A new study from the Ohio State University explains that when it comes to new moms, those who post often may be facing more anxiety, and even depression, than those who post less frequently. The thinking is that on Facebook, Instagram and the like, we tend to post about our ideal — and not real — lives. If a mom is feeling the pressure to live up to that image of the perfect gluten-free, DIY mom, she’s more likely to post in order to get the validation from her online “village.”
She’s also more likely to have stronger emotional responses to the likes and comments on her page, whether they’re positive or negative. According to the study, those responses can lead to a slippery slope. Of the 127 moms who were surveyed for the study, those same mothers who posted more often also reported higher incidence of poor appetite, restless sleep and not being able to shake off the blues (all symptoms of depression) nine months postpartum.
“If a mother is posting on Facebook to get affirmation that she’s doing a good job and doesn’t get all the likes and positive comments she expects, that could be a problem. She may end up feeling worse,” the study lead, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, explained.
On the positive side, that could also meant that moms who receive positive reinforcement or comments after posting are more likely to feel validated and as though they’re doing a good job. And deep down, isn’t that what all moms want to feel?
Of course as with most studies this one has its flaws. It polled mostly white, well-educated midwestern women in the U.S. who were married with full-time jobs — not exactly a well-rounded picture of all the moms out there.
Then of course there’s the theory that moms at home post more because they’re just craving social interaction and companionship. Especially in Canada, where mat leaves are longer than those of our U.S. counterparts, being at home talking to an infant all day can grow old quickly — regardless of a mother’s love for her child.
Our takeaway is that we should just ease up on all the moms out there who are perhaps a little overzealous with their cameras. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in life — if Facebook makes them feel a little bit happier or confident in doing that job, well then who are we to judge?
Facebook on, moms of the world. We got your back.