MONDAY, Nov. 20, 2023 (Healthday News) — Expert advice and self-help books are officially outdated: Social media is where almost all new parents now turn for advice on learning toddlers’ potty problems, sleep problems and tantrums, according to a new survey. .
Four in five people turn to forums like TikTok and Facebook for advice on how to care for young children, while almost half find social media very useful for finding new parenting ideas to try, showed the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Survey on Children’s Health. .
But the survey authors say new parents should take the advice they find with a grain of salt.
“Many parents turn to online communities to exchange advice or discuss parenting challenges because it can seem quicker and easier than asking a medical professional,” said the Mott Poll co-director. Sarah Clark. “Finding parent camaraderie in this space can have benefits, but parents should keep in mind that every family’s experience is different and not everything they hear online is necessarily accurate or not suitable for their child.”
In the survey, most mothers and more than two-thirds of fathers of children ages 4 and younger turned to social media for parenting advice or to share their experiences — a significant increase from a previous survey Mott from 2015 which explored similar questions.
What were the most pressing parenting topics? The most common discussions were about potty training (44%), children’s sleep (42%), nutrition/breastfeeding (37%), discipline (37%), behavior problems ( 33%), vaccinations (26%), daycare/preschool (24%), and getting along with other children (21%).
Three in five parents said they used social media to talk about these topics because they wanted to hear other people’s ideas, while one in four said it was convenient or they wanted to get things done differently from their parents.
More than a third of parents also said social media helped them feel less alone and helped them learn what not to do, while a quarter said it helped them decide whether to buy or not certain products.
One in ten parents of young children who use social media also describe it as being very helpful in deciding when to take their child to the doctor.
But Clark noted that with young children, “it is generally prudent to contact the child’s primary care provider with any questions.”
Telehealth visits and messaging through patient portals, she added, are effective ways for parents to seek professional advice.
Although they are increasingly looking for advice on social media, most parents have identified at least one aspect of social media sharing that concerns them.
Nearly 80% believe other parents share too much by bragging about their child or sharing too often. At the same time, more than 60% believe that parents could give out personal information that could help locate the child or embarrass them later.
Nearly half also said they had seen parents post false information, while more than a quarter noticed some parents sharing inappropriate photos of a child’s body.
“Parents recognize their concerns about sharing too much about their children on social media,” Clark said in a university news release. “Families should consider whether their child might ever be embarrassed by sharing personal information without their consent; a good rule is if you have a doubt, don’t share it. »
Another issue raised by the survey is parents sharing inaccurate information, knowingly or unknowingly.
It’s even more problematic if we consider the statistics from this survey: two in five parents think it is difficult to distinguish good advice from bad on social networks.
“There are so many decisions to make about how to best care for children during the infant and toddler years, which can be an exciting and overwhelming time,” Clark said.
“Social media is a convenient way for parents to seek information about parenting challenges in real time, especially between exams,” Clark said. “But it’s important for parents to identify reliable sources of information about children’s health and parenting, and to consult these sources before trying new strategies with their own child.
Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to learn more. being a parent of young children.
SOURCE: Michigan Medicine-University of Michigan, press release, November 20, 2023