We are all familiar with the fact that social media inevitably leads us to unrealistically compare ourselves with other people, which can negative outcomes on our well-being.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía
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Recent studies have suggested that making social comparisons online can also affect mothers.
The habit of comparing ourselves to other people has always existed. However, with the rise of social media, we also began to make comparisons on social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be useful for staying in touch with friends or even for starting romantic relationships. However other research suggests that there are negative effects for social media use, including harmful impacts on mental health. As stated by Vogel and Rose, one of the reasons why social media has negative outcomes is because they can lead users to make unhealthy comparisons with people that post idealized images of themselves.
Even though it seems to be obvious that all of us put pictures of our best selves on social media, we compare to others based on their best images. Research has demonstrated that this can affect our mental health. As parents, we also make use of social media for obtaining guidance and useful information or even when trying to find support networks. However, many try to portray themselves as perfect parents online.
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A study by Coyne and colleagues examined various parenting outcomes such as parental competence and role overload, which affect happiness as a parent. The results of the study suggested that comparisons on social media were associated with negative parental outcomes. Higher levels of social comparisons to other parents were also related to lower levels of perceived parental competence. The research has also shown that the mentioned effect is larger for mothers than for fathers and is greater for mothers of young children. Mothers may begin to question themselves why does it feel so difficult for them and may feel they are not good enough.
The same study found that there is a relationship between comparison caused by social media and mental health outcomes. For instance, mothers who compared themselves to others on social media reported feelings of depression more frequently. You may be wondering why real-life comparisons between parents are not mentioned. Even though face-to-face comparisons do take place, social media enables people to compare themselves to several others with just one click, allowing parents at the same time to access the personal information of people they don’t even know.
So next time you use your social media accounts, bear in mind the importance of creating a positive view of yourself as a mother instead of falling into the mistake of comparing yourself to mothers that portray an idealized image of their role.