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The Mobile State of Parenthood

From posts about their baby’s first tooth to their kid’s first day of school, technology enables parents to share with family and friends both near and far the joys, challenges and lessons inherent in raising a child. Parenting has become a digitally shared experience.

In observing behavior on Facebook, we see that parents globally post more photos, videos, links and status updates than non-parents.1 While conventional wisdom holds that people on the receiving end hate “sharenting,” their actions say they actually love or, at least, like it. On Facebook in the US, new parents’ posts about their babies receive 37% more interactions from relatives and 47% more interactions from friends than their general posts.2

To explore how tradition and technology are shaping the realities of parenting, Facebook IQ embarked on a multi-phased research study of 25–65-year-old parents of infants, toddlers, adolescents and teens around the world. We analyzed Facebook and Instagram data across 8 markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, UK and US) and commissioned quantitative work, conducted by Ipsos Media CT, and qualitative research, led by Sound Research. We also gathered feedback from 8,300 parents and 5 parenting experts.

We learned that technology—particularly mobile phones—has taken center stage in households across generations globally. For this second post in the Meet the Parents series, we examine how parents’ mobile phones have become their connective tissue to the wider world.

 

Feeding time is Facebook time

The arrival of a baby transforms a parent’s life in an instant: less “gym Tuesdays” or “happy hour Fridays” and more afternoon power napping after late-night feedings. As children turn parents’ focus close to home, parents are relying on their mobile phones to stay connected to family and friends—and even to brands. New parents, in particular, use mobile devices as an escape—especially during early mornings.1 New parents in the US are active on Facebook in the wee hours, starting their first mobile sessions as early as 4am and peaking at 7am.4 In fact, by 7am, 56% of new parents have visited Facebook on their mobile device.4

Deliver inspiring content for mobile moments

Brands can create bite-sized content and catchy videos on mobile that will appeal to parents, particularly those adjusting to a new schedule.

 

Mobile grows up with the child

As a child grows, so too does mom’s and dad’s relationship with their mobile phones. Mobile serves a variety of emotional and rational needs for parents globally over the course of their parenting journey, enabling everything from the mom-needs-to-get-something-done moments to managing busy weekend schedules.5

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Don’t assume parents’ needs are the same

Brands need to understand the evolving role of mobile for parents and cater their messaging to address parents’ needs depending on their child’s age.

 

Sharing is caring

From major milestones to everyday toils and product reviews, everything is now shared digitally with an extended family. As parenting expert, Christine Gross, author of “Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us,” described, “Facebook is just kind of like a lifesaver… because our lives are so busy … this is a quick way to connect with other parents and not feel so alone at all sorts of moments in the day … it really amplifies that feeling of connection.” 3

Indeed, with the exception of check-ins, moms and dads are more active on Facebook than non-parents.1

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And with sharenting comes a more fluid sense of family.

 

It takes a (digital) village

Parents’ oversharing rallies friends and families and extends the modern “family” beyond the immediate household.MTP_Blog_0116_4

Today, the average number of individuals helping to raise a child is 18, and we see this across all 8 markets studied.5 Additionally, over half of parents in Spain (55%), Mexico (54%) and Brazil (58%) say they are better than their parents at helping their child stay connected with their extended family.5

We are shifting back to an extended family structure, albeit one of a more virtual kind. Thanks to technology, extended families are now more involved and parenting is more collaborative. 


Join the extended family

Brands can earn their way into parents’ trusted circle by helping to simplify and address the information overload and questions that arise, offering reassurance that everything’s going to be alright.

 

To read more about the overriding themes shaping modern parenthood globally, visit our earlier blog post, “Meet the Parents.”

 

 

Notes: Non-parents (non-moms and non-dads) are defined as those who are not included in parent groups. Millennial parents are ages 25–34, Gen X parents are ages 35–49 and Boomer parents are ages 50–65.
Sources and methodology:
1 Facebook internal data, ages 18+, in AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, MX, UK and US, May 2014–Jul 2015. Research included 3 groups: new parents (expecting a child or with a child under age 1); parents of school-age children (ages 4–12); and parents of teens (ages 13–19). The most current self-reported and inferred data were used in combination with a proprietary method of assessing affinity to identify parents.
2 Facebook internal data, US only, Jan 14–28, 2015.
3 “Meet the Parents” by Sound Research (a Facebook-commissioned qualitative study of self-identified parents ages 25-65 in in BR, CA, ES, MX, UK and US), Apr 2015. 40 people in each market participated in online focus groups, 6 people per market completed in-home video diaries and 4 people per market completed in-depth interviews. Participants were divided into 4 groups: new parents (expecting a child or with a child under age 1); parents of young kids (ages 1–5); parents of school-age children (ages 6–12); and parents of teens (ages 13–17).
4 Facebook internal data based on reported and inferred data, US only, Jan–Apr 2015. Based on 1.6 million new moms and 925,000 new dads ages 18+, compared to same number of non-parents ages 18+. Each segment is a result of self-reported and inferred data combined with a proprietary method of assessing affinity. For the purposes of the Facebook affinity segment, “new parents” are defined as parents who have a child under the age of 1.
5 “Meet the Parents” by Ipsos Media CT (a Facebook-commissioned online study of self-identified parents ages 25–65 in AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, MX, UK and US), Mar–Apr 2015. The study included 1,000 respondents per market. Participants were split evenly by gender then divided into 4 groups: new parents (expecting a child or with a child under age 1); parents of young kids (ages 1–5); parents of school-age children (ages 6–12); and parents of teens (ages 13–17).