The use of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are extremely popular for individuals of all ages. While social networking can be associated with positive outcomes like friendships and peer networks, it can also result in negative outcomes including mental health issues and dissatisfaction in numerous areas. These negative occurrences may be due to the fact that we tend to compare ourselves to others on social networking sites. Making social comparisons is not unusual because when we have information about others, it is common to relate that information to our own lives and then make either positive or negative self-judgments. The problem arises when we make those comparisons on social networking, especially because people often put their “best selves” on these sites rather than portraying a realistic picture of their lives. Mothers may be particularly vulnerable to negative self-evaluations because they may feel pressure to be the “perfect parent” compared to other mothers they may see on social media. Mothers who engaged in higher levels of social comparison on social networking sites are associated with increased depression and more negative co-parenting relationships. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the following:
· Social networking sites rarely show the actual combination of frustrations, struggles, and joys that comes with parenting
· Focus on developing positive self-views as parents separate from comparisons to idealized versions of other parents on social networking sites
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and/or parenting issues, there are many resources available to assist in the process of support and problem-solving, including professional counseling. Call (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services, which include one-on-one therapy with a trained clinician.
Author: Sarah Caverly, M.Ed., NCC
Coyne, S.M., McDaniel, B.T., & Stockdale, L.A. (2017). “Do you dare to compare?” Associations between maternal social comparisons on social networking sites and parenting, mental health, and romantic relationship outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 335-340.
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.