New mothers who read and write blogs may feel less alone, according to new research.
The research also found that while blogging had a positive impact on new mothers, social networking — mainly Facebook and MySpace — did not seem to impact their well-being.
“It looks like blogging might be helping these women as they transition into motherhood because they may begin to feel more connected to their extended family and friends, which leads them to feel more supported,” said Brandon McDaniel, a graduate student in human development and family studies at Penn State.
“That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they’re feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression.”
McDaniel and colleagues from Brigham Young University surveyed 157 new mothers about their media use and well-being. The moms were all first-time parents with only one child under the age of 18 months.
The researchers found that 61 percent of the mothers surveyed wrote their own blogs and 76 percent read blogs.
About 89 percent who wrote their own blogs did so to “document personal experiences or share them with others,” and 86 percent wanted to stay in touch with family and friends through the blog, the researchers report.
McDaniel pointed out several potential benefits for new mothers who blog, including giving moms a way to connect with family and friends who do not live nearby and an outlet to use and showcase their hobbies and accomplishments, particularly for stay-at-home moms.
The researchers saw a significant correlation between a strong connection to family and friends and increased feelings of social support, which in turn led to higher marital satisfaction, less marital conflict and less parenting stress.
The mothers who experienced fewer feelings of parenting stress also had fewer feelings of depression, the researchers said.
Study participants completed an online survey that focused on two main subjects — their media use and their well-being.
Moms also tallied time spent on different activities throughout the day, including sleep, housework, childcare tasks, and time spent on the computer.
The new moms reported spending about three hours a day on the computer, behind only childcare, at almost nine hours a day, and sleep, at about seven hours per day.
Because this is one of the first studies to look at the effects of participation in online communities on new mothers, McDaniel noted that there is not enough information yet to determine how or why blogging and social networking have markedly different impacts on new moms.
The research was published in the online version of Maternal and Child Health Journal.
Source: Penn State