How (And Why) Mothers Use Social Media Differently Than Fathers

So, that's what they're doing on Facebook all night long ...

by Michael Howard
Originally Published: 
parents and social media

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report on the social media habits of parents, based on surveys of over 2,000 of them (defined as people with kids under 18) last September. It details everything from who uses what platforms to how many “real” friends they have on Facebook, and the whole thing is worth a read, but here’s a quick glimpse at the part you care about most: how fathers differ from mothers.

It turns out, mothers do use social media differently than fathers, starting with the kinds of social media they use. Mothers are far more likely to be posting pics to Instagram and doing whatever it is people do on Pinterest than fathers, which aligns with broader gender-specific trends in social media — including the part about fathers outpacing mothers only on LinkedIn.

Overall, mothers use social media more than fathers, and also find it more useful. Check out the discrepancies between the two on this Likert Scale (those are the “strongly agree-to-strongly disagree” surveys you used to crucify your professors at the end of every semester in college):

Across the board, moms are more likely to strongly or somewhat agree with statements about engagement and efficacy on social media than dads are. What’s interesting, though, is that when the responses are no longer evaluative, but rather anecdotal, the numbers shift somewhat:

Only 22 percent of fathers “strongly agree” that they’ve received parenting support on social media, but when asked if they’ve received such support in the past month, 28 percent say yes. Maybe it was a good month, or maybe guys are less likely to admit that the only reason they know how to get poop out of their car upholstery is because their Facebook feed told them.

To the extent that the Pew report identifies why mothers and fathers use social media differently, the explanation can be found here:

Moms are far more likely to interact with their Facebook networks than the fathers, who are far more likely to “hardly ever” interact with all those people they kinda, sorta regret friending but are too lazy to unfriend.

It’s always dangerous to draw broad conclusions from these sorts of things, but it’s also fun, so here’s a broad conclusion: Moms find social media more useful as a parenting resource because they’re better at the “social” part — they’re more engaged with the people they’re connected to, more often seeking out information, and more likely to provide it when they can.

So, the next time you’re convinced that the mother of your kid is wasting time on Facebook when she should be paying attention to you, look on the bright side — she’s probably a better mom for it. And if you think your relationship is suffering because of it … maybe ask your Facebook friends for advice?

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