It’s 4am. The alarm isn’t ringing. It doesn’t need to anymore. Mom traded her evening bag for a diaper bag months ago. And on game night, the game Dad is now focused on is “tucking in” breaks, ranging from 5 to 50 minutes.
While the mission of parenting may be timeless, the journey looks different than it used to, thanks to a confluence of cultural, societal and technological changes. Today’s parental landscape is increasingly varied, and the very definition of family has expanded. Indeed, families come in all shapes and sizes. Moms are choosing to have children at later ages, and dads are more involved in raising children. Meanwhile, mobile-first Millennials are becoming parents and bringing their tech-savvy ways to bear, all while children’s voices are gaining influence at home.
From speaking to parents globally, we learned that some things haven’t changed. Having a child has a huge impact on a parent’s life. 83% of parents globally describe their family as loving, and 77% say their family is happy.1 But coupled with that optimism are heightened stressors, as well: 48% of parents say they are concerned about money, and 39% say they are time-crunched.1
To gain a comprehensive understanding of modern 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. Collectively, we gathered feedback from 8,300 parents and 5 parenting experts.
Over the next several weeks, Facebook IQ will explore how tradition and technology have shaped the realities of parenting across generations and geographies. This first in a series of blog posts will cover 3 overriding themes we observed across the 8 countries studied.
Parenthood is mobilehood
Having a child changes everything, including parents’ relationship with their mobile phone. Moms’ and dads’ mobile phones have become their lifeline to managing schedules, keeping tabs on teens and sharing their kids’ key milestones. By observing behavior on Facebook, we see that parents overindex on mobile usage. In fact, parents globally spend 1.3X more time on Facebook mobile than non-parents.3
Mobile devices aren’t just about navigating the confusing waters of parenthood, they are also helping parents make more informed purchasing decisions. Equipped with their mobile devices, parents can get opinions, price comparisons and reviews before they make purchasing decisions. This is particularly true for Millennial parents (ages 18–34), who are 30% more likely than Boomer parents (ages 50–65) to use their mobile devices to make more informed purchasing decisions.1
The wider web of influence
With their attachment to mobile and to technology in general, parents today have greater access to more information and opinions on everything from breastfeeding to education, allowing them to validate, reinforce or question their perspectives and actions. 83% of the parents we surveyed globally said they have access to more information than their parents did.1 70% say they’re more informed than their parents were—this is particularly true for 76% of Boomers,1 who gained access to the Internet and mobile devices later in life than their younger counterparts.
Having such unprecedented access to information can be a double-edged sword. On one end, technology allows parents to gather support from friends, family and other sources, while on the other, parents are also at risk of feeling more confused than confident.
There’s no right way to parent a child, but with the proliferation of parenting advice, it’s easy to feel that there’s a wrong way.
As moms and dads are getting more informed, so are their children. A child exercises a significant amount of influence over household purchasing decisions. And as the child grows, so too does their knowledge, with kids becoming de facto experts in certain categories. Over 50% of parents globally say their child has more impact on purchasing decisions than they did in their family growing up.1 And 50% believe they listen to their child more than their parents listened to them.1
Parents are people first
While parents are sharing more decisions with their children, they are also learning to prioritize their own needs so they can be better equipped to tend to their family. 38% of parents say their family is at its best when they are at their best.1 Parents are increasingly realizing that if they take care of themselves first, they’ll be able to deal with their daily responsibilities and stresses and tend to their family’s needs in a loving and energetic way. As a parent in Mexico explained: “As soon as I drop them off at school, I go running … I feel stressed out all day long. I think when I go running [it’s] the only time I have for myself, getting relaxed and having some coffee. And after that I have to cook … my kids get home, I have to feed them, drive them to their activities.”2
So, while parents use hashtags like #tired and #familytime, they also often use hashtags that speak to not only their own health and wellness but also their personal passions.3