For all the positives social media has given us, anyone who uses it knows it can be a slippery slope. One minute it's all pretty pictures, happiness and soul-sister camaraderie, the next there's that creeping feeling that everybody else's life is somehow better.
It's little surprise then, that the finding of a Canadian study into the effects of social media on mothers, has revealed that many of us are not doing so well when faced daily with images of picture-perfect family lives on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Refinery29 Canada conducted a survey of 500 women, finding that, "82 per cent said they compare themselves to other mums online, and 69 per cent said they have insecurities about motherhood that stem from social media."
Not only that - a huge 38 per cent of those mums said that they always have those insecurities bubbling inside them, meaning it just never goes away. Here are some of the ways women say they feel insecure from social media use.
- post-baby body isn't as good as others'
- other families look like they have more fun
- other mums seem to have more 'me time'
- other mums seem happier
- being a mum seems to come more easily to others
- other mums make better, more nutritious meals
- other mums don't talk about the challenges of motherhood
It's a sobering look into the parenting psyche of modern times; unchartered territory that no generation of parents has ever had to navigate before.
And it seems mums are invested in their role as a primary identity, with 82 per cent classifying themselves as mothers on their profiles, or having a profile photo of their families.
One in four women posts photos of their children every day, with 61 per cent saying they do it to keep family and friends updated, 41 per cent saying that parenthood is an important part of their identity and a further 41 per cent saying they do it because their kids are adorable. Only 5 per cent never post photos of their kids and that's for privacy reasons.
It's little wonder then with huge identity investments at stake, that the temptation to look at what others are doing has so much sway over how a mother feels about herself as a parent.
The identity investment might explain why 53 per cent of surveyed mums felt that social media gives an accurate picture of motherhood and only 24 per cent of non mothers felt that way.
Younger mums aged 18 to 35 are particularly susceptible to feelings of insecurity, with 52 per cent noticing when people don't 'like' photos of their kids. This is compared to 42 per cent of older mums aged 36 to 45.
Lastly, not everyone loves ot see constant pictures of other people's children, but 79 per cent are all about the breastfeeding pics. See the full report here.
Refinery29 Canada is shining a spotlight on how social media has changed motherhood so that women can overcome the often crippling anxiety they experience as a result.