Does social media help or hinder new parents?

Social media can be a beacon of light for some parents, especially during those moments of helplessness. But social media can also making even the most confident of us question our skills as a parent. 

Becoming a new parent can be a time of great chaos and confusion. You have so much more responsibility than you’ve had before, and you’re trying to figure out how to do things for that tiny new person on less sleep than you’ve ever had before. 

Social media is easy to turn to. It’s there all the time, night and day (hello, 2am feeds) and there is no shortage of information and opinions about any chosen topic – especially, it seems, parenting.

But social media can also be a trap if you’re not careful. It’s important to remember that all those glowing, ethereal images of children sleeping peacefully and dressed as strawberries in a basket are part of a highlight reel, and are not reflective of real life. 
You might hear stories of babies who sleep through the night right from day one, babies who breastfeed like a dream, and babies who never fuss or cry. Parents wax lyrical about the wonders that have been brought into their lives thanks to the miracle of childbirth, and you could be left wondering what’s so wrong with you that you’re just struggling to string three hours of sleep together. 

The reason you hear those stories is because they are so incredibly rare and noteworthy that people can’t help but share them. And also because when parenting is tough – and it can be very tough – it can help to try to keep your focus on the positive.

The reality is much more mundane than those idealistic fantasies and highly filtered images. Babies cry; babies do explosive poos; babies keep you awake all night long; sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to shower; often make up and your hair are the last things on your mind.

But social media can also be a lifeline that can help you feel less isolated, and it could also sometimes be the only adult conversation you have all day. Whatever you’re going through, you can be sure there are others going through it at the same time as you – even at 2am. 
Selfie of mum and child

How can social media help new parents?

Want to know what that weird coloured poo means? Want to find some solutions to teething trouble? Want to connect with other new parents who are trying to figure it all out just like you are?

Social media can help with all of those things. The trick is knowing how to navigate social media so it helps you rather than making you feel like the worst parent alive.

Here are a few tips:

  • Learn to tell the difference between opinion and facts. As in real life, there will be people who actually know what they’re talking about and people who just love to hear the sound of their own voice (or keyboard). And most importantly, take everything your read with a grain of salt, and if you’re at all concerned about anything you’ve heard, check with your doctor and not Dr Google.
  • Connect with people that ‘get’ you, and block people that don’t. If anyone tries to make you feel bad about your parenting choices, de-friend, unfollow, block, turn of notifications and run. Now is not the time to try to convince others you’re right, or to get sucked into someone else’s drama. Find people that make you feel good and stick with them.
  • Be mindful of what you share, and with whom. Not everyone wants to hear every minute detail of your little one’s journey into solid foods. But those who are going through the same thing as you might relate to your experiences. So maybe set up a private group with your other parent friends and mindfully curate other posts that will hopefully not annoy your childless friends!

The most important factor to remember about social media is that, although it can be a beacon of light at a time in your life when you might feel isolated and alone, it should only be a part of your everyday life. It’s crucial to get out from behind your keyboard, get out of the house and interact with people in person. No social media can take the place of human contact. 

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