How are mothers negatively affected and supported by following parenting-related Instagram profiles? A mixed-methods study

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Many parents use social media to seek knowledge about child development and parenting, but parents are an understudied population in social media research. In this study, we use a mixed-methods approach to examine mothers' experience of following three different types of Instagram profiles: InstaParents, i.e. influencers sharing their personal experiences with parenthood, professional profiles disseminating knowledge about parenting and child development, and a university-based profile disseminating knowledge about child socioemotional development. The participants were 270 mothers with children aged 0–6 years, who completed an online questionnaire regarding their experience and use of Instagram. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to examine associations between mothers' social comparison orientation and their experience of following the different types of profiles. Content analysis of mothers' responses to open-ended questions was used to examine how mothers were negatively affected and supported by the different profiles. Results showed that mothers with higher levels of social comparison orientation were more negatively affected by following all three types of profiles, but also more supported by following InstaParents. The content analysis suggested that mothers were negatively affected by InstaParents by making upward comparisons and supported by making horizontal comparisons. Mothers were supported by professional profiles, including the university-based profile, by improved knowledge, but these profiles could also lead to a decreased sense of parenting competence. Results inform professionals in relation to how to support mothers through content on Instagram and how to talk to mothers about their digital use and well-being.

TidsskriftActa Psychologica
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We thank the families participating in the research project. We also thank our student assistants Cathrine Thomsen and Mia Skou for their contribution to the “Understanding your baby” Instagram profile. The research was supported by Nordea-Fonden (grant. no. 02-2018-0329 ).

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© 2022

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