I recently look an early morning trip to Philadelphia to support a one day bootcamp for pregnant teens and teen moms. My role was to speak on a relevant topic concerning social media.
I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve been a teen and we certainly didn’t have social media waaaaaaay back then. So I made some assumptions about Facebook and maybe Twitter and even schooled them a bit on LinkedIn. While I got a lot of blank stares and sleepy heads on desks, some actually paid attention and I think some of them took in what I was saying.
But as I was presenting, I realized that most of what I was saying was relevant to ANY mom (especially a new mom) getting involved in social media. And I thought it might be a message worth sharing with a broader audience.
What does social media have to do with motherhood?
- A place of support
- A resource for advice
- An outlet for celebrations and frustrations
- A way to share (photos, anecdotes, issues)
- A wealth of knowledge
But after I came up with the list, I realized that social media for moms isn’t just about babies. Because those babies grow into kids. And sometimes it’s not about the wee ones. It’s about us. Questions about parenting, or identity, or career plans, or life balance.
Social media is all about sharing. But how much is too much?
The rules change when you become a mom…
Whether you feel different or not, as a mom, you are expected to be
- More mature
And that includes your online behavior.
Facebook rules the internet
I’d say about 90% of people that I know are on Facebook. That’s not a scientific figure but it is an indication that it’s a pretty popular social network among the parenting crowd. Here are some of the things I love about Facebook:
- You can share really cute pictures of your baby and have everyone tell you how cute they are
- You can ask questions of your own personal network, “Does anyone know how to get a formula stain out of a white shirt?”
- You can usually get some words of support or encouragement when you need it. I recently posted only the word, “Overwhelmed” and soon became overwhelmed with support.
- You can control what content you want to be seen and who you want to see it.
But not everyone thinks before posting on Facebook. And so I find myself giving out this advice, especially to young moms:
- It’s NOT a great place for a public therapy session. We may all watch you air your dirty laundry but we prefer you keep it offline.
- It’s NOT a great place to change your relationship status every 5 minutes. I seen people change their status before their spouse even knew about the change in status. Uh-oh.
- It’s NOT a great place to connect with every person you’ve ever met (or sometimes never met). I know a lot of bloggers have built up their profiles. That’s fine as long as it’s about you. As soon as you involve more personal aspects of your life (including your children), you need to be sensitive to their right to privacy.
- Your content is only as private as you make it. Get to know your privacy settings.
The subculture of blogging
For many women, motherhood is the perfect time to transition to a “mommy blogger.” Most blogs start out innocently enough as a way to update family members. Then it quickly because a needed source of attention, whether positive or negative. And here comes the drama.
But blogging can be awesome in so many ways. Just a few that I love:
- It’s an amazing outlet, especially if you like to write. And it might make you feel like a grown-up again when you have to use correct grammar to construct full sentences.
- You can connect with women who are going through or have gone through EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH.
- Online friends can become good friends because you can find more common ground than just those you know through geographic boundaries.
- If you’re good at it, there can definitely rewards.
- It’s very easy and very possible to OVERSHARE. Know your limits and those of the people around you.
The power and pitfalls
Social media is awesome for moms because you can find…
- So much information available for young moms, new moms, clueless moms!
- An unbelievable amount of support when it feels like no one else understands
- A great way to make connections and have people see you in a different light (reinvent yourself!)
- Skills you didn’t know you had (writing, photography, humor)
Social media can be dangerous for moms because…
- You are putting your life out there for everyone to see (AND SCRUTINIZE!)
- It can open you up to jealousy and frustration (comparing yourself to others)
- You may find yourself oversharing your emotions IN THE MOMENT (a big no-no)
- It can compromise your child’s right to privacy
- People forget that what you think is private NEVER truly is.
Social media is your friend! (just not your best friend)