Mothers who post a lot to Facebook are more likely to become depressed, according to a new study.
The research looks at the impact social media has on a mother’s self-perception and the results are interesting, to say the least.
The research from Ohio State University and has looked at the psychological states of new mothers and how their Facebook use impacts their self esteem and validation in their new role.
It also looked at how mums are using Facebook to portray their lives with baby and how they think this looks to other people.
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Using specific demographic groups of women from the ‘New Parents Project’, the study looked at how dual income couples adjusted to their new roles as parents and aimed to show how social media has a profound effect on women’s perception of themselves and how ‘well’ they are performing as a mother.
It is interesting to note that these are not full time stay-at-home mums we are talking about and therefore they will likely have alternative avenues to seek fulfillment and validation rather than simply being a mother.
However, the participants still noted that they experienced significant emotional responses regarding their ‘mothering’ from Facebook use.
Mums said they felt validated as a mother as a result of comments and likes from friends online. Image: istock
"If a mother is posting on Facebook to get affirmation that she's doing a good job and doesn't get all the 'likes' and positive comments she expects, that could be a problem. She may end up feeling worse," Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, said.
Participants said that overall they agreed with statements like "I know people make judgments about how good of a partner/mother I am based on how well cared for my house and family are."
It was found that mothers who used Facebook after having a baby experienced more feelings of depression than those who didn't. Despite this, 85 per cent of participants said they regularly uploaded pictures of their baby to their page, with most sharing the first picture within a week of the birth.
80 per cent of these mothers also said they had stronger identification with their role as mum after they made their profile picture an image of their child.
"What these mothers are saying is that my child is central to my identity, at least right now. That's really telling," Schoppe-Sullivan said.
The study also provides an interesting insight into how the opinions and behaviour of others online can have a psychological effect on new mothers.
By measuring the emotional reaction of mums after posting pictures of their babies to Facebook, the studies authors noted that women experienced feelings of depression and disappointment if the photos did not get enough comments or 'likes' from online friends.
"These mothers paid close attention to the comments they got when they posted pictures of their baby. They felt validated when they got a lot of likes and comments, but they were also more likely to feel bad and disappointed when the reaction wasn't what they had hoped."
The authors of the study say new mothers should ask themselves why exactly they are using Facebook.
"It's great to share stories and pictures of your baby, but relying on Facebook to feel good about your parenting may be risky," Schoppe-Sullivan said.