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Social Media Envy – Does it make Parents feel Inadequate?



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Parenting Social MediaAll parents know when they open up their Facebook or Instagram feed they are going to be met with photos of a cute baby, smiling and laughing children and posts about perfect family get-aways and school successes. Research has shown that social media envy is a real phenomenon whereby parents begin to feel guilty and worthless when met with not-so-subtle reminders about how wonderful and perfect everyone else’s life’s are portrayed to be.

Recent research has shown a direct correlation between a person’s sense of self-worth and time spent on social media. Specifically, it has suggested that as time spent on social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and parenting blogs increases, parental self-esteem decreases.

With the rise in use of social media among parents for parenting tips, and as an outlet to share parenting stories and ask for advice, some parents find social media incredibly helpful. However, the constant barrage or spam of picture-perfect children (“Fake-booking”) and stories about how wonderful parenthood is can over-glamorise and under-value the true reality and often challenges of raising happy and healthy children. Being a parent IS challenging and definitely not always glamorous or rewarding and for parents who continuously read or see other parents positive accounts of parenting can leave them feeling isolated and inadequate.

Unfortunately society has coined the term competitive parenting whereby parents are constantly competing both overtly and covertly to ensure that their child reaches those developmental milestones first, has the best birthday parties, is the most cultured and ultimately is more successful than his or her peers. Truth be told, it’s really quite easy to fall into the trap of competitive parenting, because deep inside, we all want to think we are good parents. We work hard every day to make good choices and raise our children according to the highest standards. We educate ourselves about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. We try to set good limits and boundaries for junk food, television, video games and media exposure. We spend hours researching the best ways to potty train or get our child to sleep through the night.

The problems begin when we put other parents down in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. Parenting is not easy and viewing it as a competitive sport just makes it that much more challenging. Social media often provides the perfect outlet for competitive parents to showcase their child’s success and inadvertently make those ‘mediocre parents’ feel as if both their child and their role as parents are less than worthy.

parents and social media

Ways to beat the “Social Media Blues”

  • Utilise social media to connect positively with other parents, to share tips and ideas
  • Keep in mind – the status updates and photos do not show true reality
  • Unfollow or restrict news feed of ‘friends’ who consistently post unrealistic parenting brag stories
  • Stay connected in real-time with friends and family through catch-ups, phone calls and get-togethers
  • Reduce or limit use of social media if you feel it is affecting your mood or parenting self-esteem

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