Social media have become significant platforms for meaningful and important human interactions. While there are many ways that people use social networking sites to engage in politics and civic activities,6 exchange important health information,7 interact with government,8 learn in formal and informal settings9 and perform their jobs,10 people also use social media to offer each other social and emotional support. For instance, recent research has looked at how Facebook users broadcast requests for help to their networks.11 Those who reported trying to respond to requests from their friends had higher perceptions of support from their networks, highlighting the reciprocal nature of giving and getting support on social media.12 In addition, asking for help – posting requests to one’s network – is an important part of getting support through social media.13
This report documents the variety of ways parents use social media in their lives – in many cases for the purpose of receiving or offering support. Research on how mothers use social media shows that while mothers do have concerns about privacy and oversharing, they still see benefits from sharing information about their children via the social support and validation they receive.14 Social media also allow parents to share their own experiences with parenting, through answering questions and sharing information about their own children. This report also measures which social media platforms parents are using and how parents construct their networks of connections on those networks. And, finally, the report takes a deeper dive into parents’ use of Facebook, the most widely used social media platform.