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Mothers voice concern through online message boards

Jan 14, 2013

Although mothers have turned to the advice of their peers for parenting advice for generations, now there is a new outlet for consulting other moms. Online message boards are the newest safe way for mothers to anonymously express child-rearing concerns and receive support from other moms.Researchers Jean Ispa and Noriko Porter evaluated more than 100 posts from mothers of children two years old and younger and found the child-rearing concerns moms expressed related most often to feeding or eating, sleep, development, discipline, toilet-training and mother-child relationships. With new media outlets applied to various health fields, this project supports the very essence of Mizzou Advantage and interdisciplinary research.

Story by MU News Bureau

Parenting infants and toddlers can be challenging, and for generations, mothers have turned to other moms for advice. Now, with the availability of the Internet, mothers are consulting each other using modern venues: online message boards. Research from the University of Missouri indicates online discussion boards provide safe environments for mothers to anonymously express child-rearing concerns and receive support from other moms.

“Mothers have feelings that they might be embarrassed to talk about face-to-face with someone,” said Jean Ispa, professor and co-chair of the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies and study co-author. “Moms may feel ashamed if they have feelings like, ‘My child is really stressing me out,’ or ‘My child is annoying me.’ On message boards, with a pseudonym, mothers can say whatever they’re feeling, and they can get emotional support and advice from other moms with similar experiences.”

Ispa and Noriko Porter, who completed her doctorate at MU and now is an instructor of human development at Washington State University, monitored online message boards hosted by two popular parenting magazines. The researchers evaluated more than 100 posts from mothers of children two years old and younger and found the child-rearing concerns moms expressed related most often to feeding or eating, sleep, development, discipline, toilet-training and mother-child relationships. More…