S1E1: The Glamorization of Motherhood on Social Media with Dr. Kirkpatrick
In this episode, Dr. Ciera Kirkpatrick shares her research on The Idealization of Motherhood in the Media. Dr. Kirkpatrick dives into social media and the negative outcomes it has on the well-being of mothers. Her study reveals that mothers can experience increased levels of envy and anxiety when viewing social media posts that idealize motherhood. Dr. Kirkpatrick also shares her experience as a first-time mother and how difficult the role of motherhood can be.
The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan J. Douglas & Meredith W. Michaels (2005) Free Press.
Kirkpatrick, C. & Lee, S. (2022). Comparisons to picture-picture motherhood: How Instagram’s idealized portrayals of motherhood affect new mothers’ well-being. Computers in Human Behavior,137, 107417. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2022.107417
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[00:00:10.800]This is "The Good Life and Early Life,"
[00:00:13.350]a production by Nebraska Extension.
[00:00:15.120]I'm your host Emily Manning,
[00:00:16.620]an early childhood extension educator
[00:00:18.540]located in Seward County.
[00:00:20.100]In this episode, we are exploring how the glamorization
[00:00:22.920]of motherhood and social media impacts new mothers,
[00:00:25.830]how the idealization of motherhood has changed over time
[00:00:28.800]and ways to counteract the negative impact of social media
[00:00:31.890]for new moms.
[00:00:32.940]The guest of this episode has her bachelor's
[00:00:35.040]and master's degree in communication
[00:00:36.900]from Wichita State University and has also earned a PhD
[00:00:40.320]in journalism with an emphasis on strategic communication
[00:00:43.500]from the University of Missouri.
[00:00:44.910]She joined UNL in 2021 and is an assistant professor
[00:00:48.270]of advertising and public relations
[00:00:50.100]at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
[00:00:52.830]Her most recent research has been focused on how to increase
[00:00:55.710]enrollment of minority populations and clinical trials
[00:00:58.740]and what we will talk about on this episode,
[00:01:00.810]the influence of Instagram posts on the mental health
[00:01:03.870]and wellbeing of new mothers.
[00:01:06.060]Welcome to the show, Dr. Sierra Kirkpatrick.
[00:01:09.150]Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:10.830]I'm very excited.
[00:01:11.790]I'm very excited to have you as well.
[00:01:14.039]I'm very excited about your research.
[00:01:14.910]I was going total nerd mode
[00:01:16.950]when I read your research article,
[00:01:18.672]but before we dive into your research,
[00:01:21.180]I wanna hear about you and tell me a story
[00:01:24.480]from your childhood.
[00:01:25.590]Yeah, okay, let's do this.
[00:01:27.150]So it's so hard to pick just one and this story involves
[00:01:30.120]my brother too, but I feel like siblings
[00:01:32.580]are a big part of our lives too and it's a funny story.
[00:01:35.010]So when I was about probably eight or nine years old,
[00:01:38.340]I was just like running through the house
[00:01:40.740]probably chasing my brother honestly.
[00:01:42.570]And we had hardwood floors at the time
[00:01:44.910]and there must have been like a blanket
[00:01:46.860]or a piece of clothing or something on the floor
[00:01:48.750]and I slipped on it and I fell and hit my tailbone
[00:01:51.630]really hard, which of course, was not funny.
[00:01:54.030]It actually hurt a ton and I was crying,
[00:01:55.890]but my brother ran and grabbed our home phone,
[00:01:58.440]he was probably only like five or six at the time
[00:02:00.270]and immediately called 911
[00:02:01.920]and when the answer told them,
[00:02:03.847]"Help, my sister fell and broke her butt."
[00:02:06.540]And he hung up.
[00:02:08.633]And the police like ended up calling our house,
[00:02:12.090]checking to make sure nothing was wrong
[00:02:14.190]and my mom had to answer and she had no idea
[00:02:16.230]what had happened and had to apologize.
[00:02:18.150]Come everything was fine.
[00:02:19.260]And explained that like she had been teaching us
[00:02:21.330]when something happens and you need help
[00:02:23.130]and it's an emergency, you call 911.
[00:02:25.140]So my brother had listened at least
[00:02:26.940]and was putting the skill to use,
[00:02:28.740]but yes, not quite a situation we needed.
[00:02:32.190]I love that.
[00:02:33.023]That's so funny.
[00:02:33.856]I can't imagine the operator hearing that
[00:02:36.540]and they're like, "What?
[00:02:38.580]They broke their butt?" (laughs)
[00:02:41.134]Luckily, I think the humor of the situation
[00:02:43.950]helped me recover faster.
[00:02:45.390]Yes, did you break your tailbone?
[00:02:47.310]No, I didn't.
[00:02:48.270]It was just like bruised and I was fine.
[00:02:51.000]That's still really painful
[00:02:52.860]'cause then you can't really lay or sit comfortably.
[00:02:56.280]I know they make those like donut pillows to help.
[00:03:01.560]Luckily ,I was young and recovered fast.
[00:03:04.177]Yeah, that's good, yes.
[00:03:06.540]Alright, let's get into talking about your research.
[00:03:09.960]In your research, you talked about this theory termed
[00:03:12.900]social comparison and it was pretty important
[00:03:15.240]for organizing your work and your results.
[00:03:18.330]So will you tell us about this theory
[00:03:21.478]and how it informs your work?
[00:03:24.090]So social comparison theory is a theory that emerged
[00:03:27.000]in the 1950s from a social psychologist
[00:03:30.517]named Leon Festinger.
[00:03:31.707]And basically, it explains that we as humans
[00:03:34.560]just have this natural tendency
[00:03:36.240]to compare ourselves to each other.
[00:03:38.190]And we do this because it's a way for us
[00:03:40.200]to evaluate ourselves.
[00:03:41.610]So we evaluate ourselves in terms of our abilities,
[00:03:44.160]what we're able to do and the opinions that we have.
[00:03:46.800]And when we compare our abilities and opinions
[00:03:49.380]to those of other people,
[00:03:50.760]that helps us to see kind of where we stand
[00:03:53.370]and if we're measuring up to who we want to be
[00:03:55.560]or who we think we should be.
[00:03:56.700]And so these comparisons are really important
[00:03:59.220]and they can have positive and negative effects.
[00:04:01.680]So it depends on the result of the comparison
[00:04:04.710]and comparisons can be directional.
[00:04:07.260]So an upward comparison is when we compare ourselves
[00:04:09.930]to someone who we perceive to be superior to us,
[00:04:12.990]they're better to us and we aspire to be like them
[00:04:15.600]in most cases.
[00:04:16.433]And then with a downward comparison, it's the opposite.
[00:04:19.110]So that's when we make a comparison to someone
[00:04:21.120]who we perceive to be below us.
[00:04:22.800]So in that case, we would perceive ourselves
[00:04:24.600]as better than them on whatever quality it is
[00:04:27.210]that we're comparing.
[00:04:28.110]And so with social comparisons,
[00:04:29.700]kind of the important thing to keep in mind
[00:04:31.350]is that we have all these different people
[00:04:33.120]we can compare to,
[00:04:34.848]but we tend to compare ourselves to people
[00:04:35.681]who are similar to us.
[00:04:36.840]And so for me for example, I'm a fairly new mother,
[00:04:40.140]I'm a working mom and so it would make more sense for me
[00:04:42.600]to compare myself to someone
[00:04:43.890]who has those similar characteristics.
[00:04:45.750]Whereas comparing to someone who is a stay-at-home mom
[00:04:48.810]or maybe has a bunch of children,
[00:04:50.788]they might not be as good of a comparison target to me
[00:04:53.550]because our situations are so different.
[00:04:55.440]When I was reading about this theory
[00:04:57.990]and about the social comparison theory,
[00:05:00.780]I just immediately thought of when I was in a kid in school
[00:05:04.830]and we were working on like a project,
[00:05:06.690]I think it was like string art and everybody's
[00:05:09.030]right by each other and you're like,
[00:05:10.777]"Am I doing this right?"
[00:05:12.330]And so then you look to your left and you're like,
[00:05:14.287]"Oh, they use like glitter thread, I should use that.
[00:05:18.120]And then you look to your right and they're like,
[00:05:19.627]"Well, at least mine doesn't look like that."
[00:05:22.170]And just kind of like checking in on the others around you
[00:05:25.290]who are doing something similar to make sure
[00:05:27.030]that you're doing it right.
[00:05:28.290]When you can get ideas from somebody
[00:05:29.880]who's doing it better and you're like, "I can do that."
[00:05:31.770]And take it into your-
[00:05:33.284]Yes, yeah, that's great example.
[00:05:35.127]And yeah, so those social comparisons we make can make us
[00:05:37.680]feel really good about ourselves.
[00:05:39.000]Like maybe there's someone we really want to aspire
[00:05:41.100]to be like and if we compare to them
[00:05:42.690]and feel like we are similar to them,
[00:05:44.970]that can make us feel really good and optimistic about
[00:05:47.070]who we are and who we can be.
[00:05:48.390]Whereas if we compare to someone we wanna be like
[00:05:50.640]and realize like, "Oh no,
[00:05:51.900]I'm not living up to the same level as them,"
[00:05:54.300]that's where it can be harmful and lead us to have
[00:05:56.940]these feelings of envy or anxiety and worry
[00:06:00.270]about what we're gonna do to try to get to be to that level.
[00:06:04.800]That makes total sense.
[00:06:06.000]How does social media play into all of this?
[00:06:09.503]Well, social media, it's everywhere.
[00:06:12.090]It's literally like in the palm of our hands
[00:06:14.310]every single day because of mobile technology.
[00:06:17.100]And so with social media, it's there all the time.
[00:06:20.310]It also allows for such easy dissemination
[00:06:24.390]of different portrayal of things.
[00:06:26.280]So like with motherhood,
[00:06:27.360]there's just so much motherhood content out there
[00:06:29.190]because it's so easy for everyone to share their experiences
[00:06:31.980]to take pictures of what they're doing
[00:06:33.420]and post about their experiences and everyone can do it.
[00:06:36.420]So it's something that's just so accessible,
[00:06:38.820]but then it's also problematic
[00:06:40.470]in that it's just a highlight reel usually.
[00:06:43.830]People post about the happy moments and the things
[00:06:46.290]that they wanna brag about, whereas not everything is shown,
[00:06:49.650]we don't get the full picture.
[00:06:50.760]So the focus of what people choose to post
[00:06:54.030]and then also the technology that allows us
[00:06:56.340]to edit our photos, add filters,
[00:06:58.740]make it look better than it really is.
[00:07:00.360]That all plays into this social comparison process
[00:07:02.730]because we end up comparing ourselves to things
[00:07:05.340]that aren't entirely realistic, which can be harmful.
[00:07:08.100]Yeah, so how has a volume
[00:07:10.710]of idealized images of motherhood,
[00:07:13.680]how has that changed over time
[00:07:15.540]with the advent of social media?
[00:07:18.630]Firstly, it's important to recognize
[00:07:20.190]that this like idealization of motherhood
[00:07:22.320]in the media isn't a new thing.
[00:07:24.120]So there's a really great book called The Mommy Myth
[00:07:26.940]and that I read as part of my research.
[00:07:29.307]And in that book the authors do an amazing job
[00:07:32.760]of giving a history of the idealization
[00:07:35.850]of motherhood in the media.
[00:07:36.990]And they talk about how this idea of idealized portrayals
[00:07:40.980]in women comparing themselves to the portrayals dates back,
[00:07:44.040]long before social media in the 1970s and '80s,
[00:07:46.710]motherhood was glamorized in the form of magazines
[00:07:49.410]and specifically celebrity mom profiles.
[00:07:51.840]So in these '70s and '80s magazines, we saw celebrities
[00:07:56.370]posting about their motherhood experiences
[00:07:58.950]in a very glamorized way.
[00:08:00.300]So headlines like,
[00:08:02.077]"My life is complete now that I have a baby."
[00:08:04.800]and just making it seem like you weren't a woman
[00:08:07.320]unless you had a child and once you had a child,
[00:08:09.540]everything was better, everything was perfect,
[00:08:11.790]you loved your child as much as you possibly could,
[00:08:14.370]nothing else mattered.
[00:08:15.330]You succeeded at everything related to being a parent.
[00:08:18.240]And so mothers were comparing themselves to those portrayals
[00:08:21.810]just as we do now.
[00:08:23.190]But the difference is that social media
[00:08:26.220]as we've kind of touched on, just adds to the issue
[00:08:29.280]because there's such an abundance of portrayals.
[00:08:31.860]And one thing I like to think about and point out
[00:08:34.350]is that in the '70s and '80s,
[00:08:36.300]yeah you might read a magazine when you're standing in line
[00:08:39.210]at the grocery store in your leisure time that you have
[00:08:42.120]but social media is something that we constantly
[00:08:44.610]have accessible to us.
[00:08:46.140]And so in the middle of the night
[00:08:47.400]when I'm feeding my child in the dark in the nursery,
[00:08:50.640]I'm not gonna be reading a magazine
[00:08:52.260]but I am gonna have my phone out.
[00:08:53.610]I'll probably be scrolling on social media.
[00:08:56.010]And that can also occur in a very isolating time.
[00:08:59.053]you're by yourself but you're seeing all these portrayals
[00:09:02.550]and you're comparing yourself to them in that instance.
[00:09:05.250]So these idealizations of motherhood in the media
[00:09:07.650]have been around a long time,
[00:09:09.891]but social media has led to there being so much more
[00:09:11.670]and it being more accessible.
[00:09:13.170]And it's not just the celebrities now
[00:09:15.180]who are posting these portrays,
[00:09:16.710]it's literally anyone being able to post this content.
[00:09:19.650]Yeah, so it's just there all the time.
[00:09:22.020]Anyone can be a celebrity now.
[00:09:23.760]And I also think of like,
[00:09:25.620]I think a lot of us know that we aren't gonna be celebrities
[00:09:29.640]and it's easier for us to not make a direct comparison
[00:09:32.850]to these celebrities because we know they have
[00:09:34.770]all these resources to help them look really beautiful
[00:09:37.410]and put together.
[00:09:39.004]But when it's someone who seems more like every day,
[00:09:41.460]then it's like, "Oh well they're doing this so well,
[00:09:44.310]but why can't I?"
[00:09:45.313]I guess if that makes sense.
[00:09:47.190]And you also have the kind of like in between
[00:09:50.340]everyday person and celebrity with the influencer.
[00:09:53.220]So a lot of people perceive influencers
[00:09:56.190]as kind of like a celebrity type,
[00:09:57.810]but also a lot of people perceive influencers as a friend
[00:10:00.930]and someone that they can actually go and interact with.
[00:10:03.480]I can comment on their posts and they might comment back.
[00:10:05.940]And so there's an interesting dynamic
[00:10:07.920]in relationship there too.
[00:10:09.450]They're not so different from us as celebrities.
[00:10:12.000]We have some things in common with them.
[00:10:13.710]But I think one of the biggest takeaways from the research
[00:10:16.980]that I did and maybe the most surprising result
[00:10:18.990]was that in my study, I was looking at the effects
[00:10:21.720]of idealized and non-idealized images of motherhood
[00:10:24.330]coming from both social media influencers
[00:10:27.270]and everyday users, non-influencer mothers.
[00:10:30.660]And it didn't matter whether the idealized portrayals
[00:10:33.210]were coming from the influencers or the everyday mothers,
[00:10:36.570]as long as it was an idealized post,
[00:10:38.340]it was having negative effects.
[00:10:39.810]Those idealized portrayals from both sources types
[00:10:42.360]were increasing envy and anxiety
[00:10:44.280]and ultimately having harmful effects.
[00:10:45.960]So that just goes to show that anyone
[00:10:48.060]who posts these idealized portrayals of motherhood
[00:10:50.190]on social media can have harmful effects
[00:10:52.830]because we compare to them.
[00:10:53.850]And that kinda goes back to what I mentioned before
[00:10:55.800]with us comparing to people who are similar to us.
[00:10:59.160]So in my study, mothers compare themselves
[00:11:01.680]more to the people who weren't influencers
[00:11:03.056]than the ones who were influencers
[00:11:05.550]likely because they perceived themselves
[00:11:07.500]to be more similar to them.
[00:11:08.580]So they're a better comparison target
[00:11:10.290]'cause we have more in common with them
[00:11:11.760]than we do the influencers.
[00:11:13.320]That was the finding
[00:11:14.153]that was the most surprising to me as well.
[00:11:16.050]'Cause I thought it was gonna be the source,
[00:11:19.290]I thought the celebrities and the influencers would cause
[00:11:22.230]more of those like negative mental health effects,
[00:11:25.110]but it really doesn't matter.
[00:11:26.310]It kinda matters the type.
[00:11:28.440]Do you wanna describe what an idealized post would look like
[00:11:32.520]versus a non-idealized post?
[00:11:34.560]So we kinda have a kind of a basis for that.
[00:11:37.020]Yeah, so in the study, half of the post came
[00:11:40.297]from an influencer and half from a non-influencer
[00:11:41.670]and then half were idealized and half were non-idealized.
[00:11:44.100]And so those posts that qualified as idealized were ones
[00:11:47.370]that only focused on positives related to parenting.
[00:11:50.280]So it was a lot of just picture perfect portrayals.
[00:11:53.910]So the house wasn't a mess,
[00:11:55.440]you didn't see messy kids or upset kids.
[00:11:57.780]The mother and the child were very happy
[00:11:59.970]and well put together.
[00:12:01.664]Often, the mother had her hair and makeup done
[00:12:03.330]and they were maybe even in matching outfits,
[00:12:05.310]her and her child.
[00:12:06.270]Whereas the non idealized portrayal in the study
[00:12:09.390]did mention difficulties, hardships,
[00:12:12.240]negative aspects of parenting.
[00:12:14.250]So it in some cases, it may have shown like a child
[00:12:17.430]who was upset or sick or not meeting the milestones
[00:12:20.670]they should have been meeting
[00:12:21.630]or the parent was struggling and opening up
[00:12:24.090]about how tired they were or stressed they were.
[00:12:26.790]And so basically the big difference there
[00:12:28.770]was these picture perfect portrayals
[00:12:30.840]that didn't mention hardships versus ones
[00:12:32.880]that did talk about the difficulties
[00:12:34.410]associated with parenting.
[00:12:35.640]And all of these portrayals that were used in the study
[00:12:37.830]were taken from real moms had put and posted on Instagram.
[00:12:41.280]So that was really important to me to test the effects
[00:12:43.290]of images that are actually out there
[00:12:45.030]and being seen by mothers and having these effects.
[00:12:47.250]Rather than something that was recreated in a lab
[00:12:49.530]that you can't always capture what happens out
[00:12:52.890]in the real jungle of social media
[00:12:55.320]I guess you could call it.
[00:12:56.520]So you specifically focus on new mothers and you mentioned
[00:12:59.340]that you were a new mother yourself.
[00:13:01.260]Is that what made this topic of interest to you
[00:13:05.370]or what lighted that interest for you?
[00:13:09.330]I mean, my personal tie to the subject is definitely
[00:13:12.780]what prompted the idea to study this.
[00:13:15.870]I also became a parent at the height
[00:13:18.300]of the COVID-19 pandemic.
[00:13:19.710]My son was born in May of 2020.
[00:13:21.360]And so it was a very hard time to become a parent
[00:13:23.910]and I think that added to the difficulties that I had.
[00:13:26.730]But yeah, I went into motherhood thinking
[00:13:30.840]that I was pretty well-prepared.
[00:13:32.220]I had read the books,
[00:13:33.750]read the research, listened to podcasts,
[00:13:35.730]talked to other moms and I was very quickly knocked down
[00:13:39.990]and realized, like no matter how much preparation you do,
[00:13:43.500]you have no idea just how hard this is gonna be
[00:13:45.810]and what it's actually gonna be like
[00:13:47.400]and how much you're gonna suck at some aspects of it.
[00:13:50.790]And so, I think for me stepping into that role
[00:13:54.810]of being a parent for the first time
[00:13:56.880]was just so difficult and made me realize, wow,
[00:14:01.170]like this is such a hard transition and I'm noticing
[00:14:04.590]that the social media usage and all of the people I follow
[00:14:08.700]is not helping the situation.
[00:14:10.200]It's just making it more difficult.
[00:14:11.700]And so, it started as like a personal interest and thing
[00:14:15.990]that was affecting me, but then also the research,
[00:14:18.870]that I read in order to be able to carry out this study
[00:14:21.510]talked about how that transition to motherhood
[00:14:24.000]is one of the hardest transitions anyone can go through.
[00:14:26.790]You're stepping into an entirely different role.
[00:14:29.280]You're also affected in so many ways.
[00:14:31.860]Mentally, emotionally, physically,
[00:14:34.492]especially if you're giving birth yourself.
[00:14:37.800]If you're being affected economically.
[00:14:40.650]That can have really strong effects.
[00:14:42.120]So I mean every aspect of your life
[00:14:43.830]is kind of being turned upside down.
[00:14:45.030]You're possibly leaving your job for good
[00:14:47.460]or you're taking a break from your job
[00:14:49.080]and you might be losing friends along the way.
[00:14:51.060]And so there's just so many things that put us
[00:14:54.152]in a vulnerable state as a parent that then leads
[00:14:55.710]to these comparisons having even more of an effect.
[00:14:58.530]Because you're already in this vulnerable state
[00:15:00.450]with all of these big life changes
[00:15:03.030]that cause stress on their own.
[00:15:04.770]So that just puts you in a heightened stress state
[00:15:07.753]and can make you more vulnerable to those things.
[00:15:11.520]So what did you specifically find,
[00:15:13.440]let's highlight those results from your research.
[00:15:16.140]So what did you find in your research about new mothers
[00:15:19.200]and social media?
[00:15:20.550]So first of all, the big takeaway was looking at how much
[00:15:24.420]the mothers were comparing to these posts.
[00:15:26.280]So in looking at that it was found
[00:15:28.410]that the mothers in the study,
[00:15:29.970]the new mothers which were defined as mothers with a child
[00:15:32.640]under the age of three compared more
[00:15:34.860]to the mothers who were like them.
[00:15:36.630]So they compared more to the portrayals
[00:15:38.850]that came from everyday mothers rather than the portrayals
[00:15:41.310]from the social media influencers.
[00:15:43.440]They also actually compared themselves more
[00:15:45.660]to the non-idealized portrayals of motherhood too
[00:15:49.170]than the idealized portrayals, which was kind of surprising.
[00:15:51.960]But it goes back to that idea
[00:15:54.150]that we compare to things that are similar to us.
[00:15:56.850]So we compare to those non idealized portrayals
[00:15:59.640]because they're more realistic,
[00:16:01.140]they're more relatable and we perceive our experiences
[00:16:04.530]to be more similar to them,
[00:16:05.610]which goes back to social comparison theory.
[00:16:08.340]But then even though the mothers in the study compared more
[00:16:12.150]to the non-idealized portrayals of motherhood,
[00:16:15.210]it didn't matter that the idealized portrayals
[00:16:17.310]were being compared to less.
[00:16:18.870]Those idealized portrayals were still able to have
[00:16:21.510]harmful effects even though we weren't comparing ourselves
[00:16:24.300]as much to them.
[00:16:25.410]So the idealized portrayals of motherhood in this study
[00:16:29.010]increased envy and anxiety among the new mothers
[00:16:31.997]in the study.
[00:16:33.120]So the big takeaways are that idealized portrayals
[00:16:36.090]of motherhood lead to increased levels of envy and anxiety.
[00:16:40.290]And it doesn't matter whether those portrayals are coming
[00:16:42.480]from social media influencers or everyday users,
[00:16:45.540]as long as it's idealized,
[00:16:46.800]it can have those negative effects.
[00:16:48.390]Yeah, that was my takeaway too is like,
[00:16:51.483]from the results is like we perceived ourselves
[00:16:53.460]to be more similar to others
[00:16:55.517]when they open up and share their struggles
[00:16:57.840]more often than when they share their highlights
[00:16:59.820]'cause I think it just shows them more as a real human
[00:17:02.280]because that's just what human life is like.
[00:17:04.950]We don't have just this highlight reel all the time.
[00:17:07.230]I wish we could have a hallmark movie kind of life.
[00:17:09.720]And I think if there's social media influencers out there,
[00:17:12.960]they can have really have a takeaway from this research
[00:17:15.150]and be like, "Oh, maybe I need to show
[00:17:16.890]some of the struggles more."
[00:17:18.450]But I think they kinda already do that.
[00:17:20.100]They're pretty savvy and kind of pick up on that stuff.
[00:17:22.740]Really great influencers out there
[00:17:24.390]who do like post about the hardships
[00:17:26.970]and it's so refreshing to see
[00:17:28.920]and just helps you to remember like, okay,
[00:17:31.290]they're going through some crappy times too.
[00:17:34.410]It's makes them a lot more relatable.
[00:17:36.300]So I'm a total nerd and I was like talking about this
[00:17:38.610]to my husband and my friends
[00:17:40.380]'cause I just am a nerd and love this.
[00:17:42.420]And he was wondering if the amount of time spent
[00:17:47.010]on social media mattered with these harmful effects.
[00:17:51.240]Yeah, so that was something
[00:17:53.010]that I kind of tried to investigate.
[00:17:55.320]I measured that a couple different ways,
[00:17:57.120]asking how much time they spend on social media.
[00:17:59.700]I had like a measure that measured
[00:18:01.680]what's called Instagram intensity.
[00:18:05.130]Yeah, it sounds fancy.
[00:18:08.194]It basically is a measure of like how important Instagram
[00:18:11.910]and social media are to your life.
[00:18:13.650]How sad you would be if it was removed from your life,
[00:18:16.200]how much you rely on it.
[00:18:17.460]And so I did look at that
[00:18:18.840]and there weren't super strong differences that appeared,
[00:18:22.500]which maybe it's something to look into a little bit more.
[00:18:25.440]But I think kind of the key takeaway
[00:18:26.970]was that it didn't really matter.
[00:18:28.830]If people were people who are on social media
[00:18:32.490]a lot or not, there were still these effects for everyone.
[00:18:35.940]There wasn't a big difference there.
[00:18:37.500]But that was just within the scope of me exposing
[00:18:41.490]these participants to these specific portrayals.
[00:18:44.220]So they were all being fed the same amount of social media
[00:18:47.310]in the study.
[00:18:48.630]Whereas, in real life,
[00:18:50.310]if you do spend more time on social media,
[00:18:52.830]then you are gonna be exposed
[00:18:54.150]to more opportunities for comparison.
[00:18:56.490]So I think in the real world,
[00:18:58.080]there is probably an effect there.
[00:18:59.900]It just wasn't captured in the way the study was designed.
[00:19:02.850]That makes sense, yeah.
[00:19:04.200]Could be interesting to explore in the future
[00:19:06.690]if you sure want to do that.
[00:19:08.400]I'm not gonna dictate your research agenda.
[00:19:12.540]But let's talk about some of the ways
[00:19:14.820]that social media influencers and those everyday users
[00:19:18.180]go about crafting these idealized images of motherhood.
[00:19:22.350]What do you wish people would know
[00:19:24.240]about the creation of these posts?
[00:19:26.160]Yeah, I mean I think the most important thing
[00:19:27.960]is just being able to recognize
[00:19:29.910]that it's not the full picture that's being shown.
[00:19:32.970]It's the highlights.
[00:19:34.410]And so this can look a lot of different ways.
[00:19:37.650]Some people go and put makeup on
[00:19:40.650]even though they're gonna be home all day
[00:19:42.450]because there's a chance they're gonna take a picture
[00:19:44.340]for social media.
[00:19:46.080]Other people will go to take a picture of their child,
[00:19:49.560]but they'll push all the clutter out of the way first
[00:19:52.140]so that their house looks clean before they snap the picture
[00:19:54.874]because they wanna put off this image that their house
[00:19:57.690]is clean and it's not a mess.
[00:19:58.980]And when I first became a mother
[00:20:01.710]and was taking lots of photos of my child,
[00:20:04.020]I noticed that I was being tempted to do the same things.
[00:20:07.080]I was zooming in to cut out the dirty diaper
[00:20:10.650]that's in the background.
[00:20:12.090]Or I would try to make sure my kid's face was clean
[00:20:14.347]before taking a picture of him.
[00:20:16.980]And I realized, I'm just kinda adding to the problem
[00:20:19.950]and I'm doing this because I feel pressure to.
[00:20:21.780]Because I feel pressure to put out
[00:20:23.220]these idealized depictions.
[00:20:24.750]But it even goes further than trying to have clean kids
[00:20:27.660]in a clean house.
[00:20:28.740]In reading about social media influencers for the study,
[00:20:32.400]I actually read about how some social media influencers
[00:20:35.550]will literally get an Airbnb
[00:20:38.160]just to do their photo shoots in
[00:20:40.110]so that it looks like they live in a cooler place
[00:20:42.690]than they actually live in.
[00:20:43.950]Or that they're having these experiences that they portray
[00:20:47.160]as just everyday normal things for them.
[00:20:49.320]But in reality, it's fake.
[00:20:51.300]And so we need just realize that this is happening
[00:20:54.990]and that what we see isn't always what it looks like.
[00:20:57.390]And I think we can help people remember that
[00:21:00.990]by having a little more realism in what we post.
[00:21:04.110]Not always striving for the perfectly curated post
[00:21:07.290]out there, show some of the difficulties,
[00:21:09.810]don't worry about the house looking like a mess
[00:21:11.910]in the background because people
[00:21:13.140]are gonna be able to relate to it more.
[00:21:15.420]Yeah, that makes sense.
[00:21:16.500]I am so surprised by the Airbnb.
[00:21:18.870]I did not know that that was going on,
[00:21:20.610]but that sounds so nice though.
[00:21:22.230]Like so easy just to like go and run out of place
[00:21:24.900]that's already cleaned,
[00:21:26.740]already organized already probably like had a designer
[00:21:29.070]design all of the interior design, so it looks amazing.
[00:21:32.850]Those influencers, they do have resources that we don't.
[00:21:35.037]Some of them are making a ton of money
[00:21:37.620]from this influencing career.
[00:21:40.140]And so we also have to keep that in mind.
[00:21:42.060]Like they have the means to be able
[00:21:44.190]to have the best clothes,
[00:21:45.660]the best vacations, the best cars,
[00:21:48.180]and we need to keep that in mind too,
[00:21:50.670]that some people have different opportunities and resources
[00:21:54.210]that not everybody has and that plays into it too.
[00:21:56.790]Yeah, that goes into a thought that I had
[00:21:59.550]while I was reading the research
[00:22:01.020]and I was just thinking of like social media influencers
[00:22:04.140]are just so savvy, like I said before.
[00:22:06.300]And I think they're really good about hiding their wealth
[00:22:09.990]and resources because they do.
[00:22:11.730]They have people sending them clothes to advertise,
[00:22:14.460]they're sending them all these products and they probably
[00:22:17.310]are making quite a bit of money
[00:22:18.750]and they have a flexible schedule.
[00:22:20.430]So they can style their hair,
[00:22:21.780]they can put on makeup because they have an hour
[00:22:23.970]in their day to do so.
[00:22:25.170]And I think that's just a lot more hidden
[00:22:27.090]than with celebrities because celebrities,
[00:22:29.130]we know they have a styling team.
[00:22:30.780]We know that they probably have a stylist that picked out
[00:22:33.300]their outfit and I think we just are a lot more aware
[00:22:36.780]of that with celebrities and with social media influencers.
[00:22:39.870]So I just wish people would know those things.
[00:22:43.410]Those tricks and things that they're doing
[00:22:45.540]'cause I think it's a lot more hidden on social media.
[00:22:48.090]Yeah, you touched on so many
[00:22:50.040]of the important aspects there.
[00:22:51.887]I mean they probably even in a lot of cases have someone
[00:22:53.580]who's there helping out with their kid.
[00:22:55.478]I didn't even think of that, of course.
[00:22:58.410]A nanny in the other room or someone
[00:23:00.240]that watches their kid at night so they actually get
[00:23:02.640]to sleep and look well-rested.
[00:23:04.140]That's a good point as well.
[00:23:05.190]I didn't even think about like the outside help that they
[00:23:08.160]could be hiring to help do those jobs.
[00:23:12.990]We are gonna stop right here, listeners for this episode,
[00:23:15.990]but we will continue our interview
[00:23:18.000]with Dr. Kirkpatrick in our next episode.
[00:23:20.280]Some things we are gonna cover
[00:23:21.720]include navigating social media for new moms,
[00:23:25.200]when to post and when not to post,
[00:23:27.360]and how to find a supportive community online to name a few.
[00:23:30.720]So stay tuned for more on this topic.
[00:23:35.070]This has been an episode of "The Good Life and Early Life,"
[00:23:38.550]a Nebraska Extension Early Childhood Production
[00:23:40.980]with your host, Emily Manning.
[00:23:42.360]For more information on early childhood,
[00:23:44.130]check out our website at child.unl.edu.
[00:23:47.250]If you like the show,
[00:23:48.090]subscribe and tell your friends to listen.
[00:23:49.890]The show production team is Emily Manning,
[00:23:52.260]Dr. Holly Hatton, Ingrid Lindal, Erin Campbell,
[00:23:55.800]Linda Reddish, Kim Wellsand and Katie Kraus.
[00:23:59.160]See you next time and thanks for listening.
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