A vast proportion of new mothers are spending even more time social networking a study has found. Can we understand this phenomena and the need to reach out to almost anyone in these times when family often live miles away or would these mums be helping themselves more by switching that computer screen off and switching on to their babies instead?
A study has found that new mothers tend to increase the amount of time they spend on Facebook once their baby is born. This suggests that these mothers are preferring to spend more time in a virtual world, posting up photos of their newborn and commenting on their sleepless nights, rather than living in the real world with the newborn baby itself.
This seems terribly sad because whilst trading tips and tribulations with other mothers on the web they are perhaps missing vital bonding time with their babies.
In contrast fathers are found to spend on average just the same amount of time on Facebook once a new baby is born so the arrival has no effect on their wish to social network more, it appears.
It was also discovered through the study that those mothers who flocked to Facebook had higher stress levels. What the study was unable to establish was whether these mothers were stressed initially and so turned to Facebook or whether interacting on Facebook had brought about the stress.
Those who conducted the survey concluded, perhaps a little rashly, that it was probably stressed out mothers who were turning to Facebook for much needed support rather than Facebook bringing about the stress.
I believe an argument can be made either way. I do not have a Facebook account, unbelievably perhaps, but there was many a time when I would turn to the internet for support during those tricky first few months as a new parent, whether to find out tips on how to get my daughter to drink out of a bottle, or to try and diagnose the causes of a rash.
I found however, for every useful comment on a discussion board or even on an official website like Bounty or Mumsnet, there were a whole host of other posts and official guidelines which made me want to put my head in my hands in despair.
Out there on the internet there are a whole breed of mums who seem to make it their mission to make you feel like the most rubbish parent in the world and your baby, the most difficult and awkward. They are there trumpeting how amazing and advanced their children are and how carefree and untroubled they are as mothers.
The web is only really reflecting the world in general. For every mum who will take you aside and calmly help you through a problem, there is one who will laugh in your face. On the internet however, this broad range of opinions becomes ever more concentrated and overwhelming. Facebook is no different from what I have observed.
Yes there are the mums who will despairing post up on there about their sleepless nights but then there are the mums who brag about their little ones achievements. If you own baby hasn't met those milestones by the same age you can't help but think you have somehow failed.
Mums used to cope before Facebook and even before the internet. Parenting advise was gleaned from family and friends and mums met at parenting groups. People tend to be far more helpful and kind face to face. There is something about typing onto a computer screen, I guess because of the anonymity, which allows people's spiteful side to pour out.
There's nothing wrong with posting a photo of your newborn on your Facebook page and posting the occasional comment about how you and baby are getting on, but I think there is something a little dangerous about relying on it as a major prop during those difficult first few months of motherhood.