Research from the University of Missouri indicates that online discussion boards provide safe environments for mothers to anonymously express child-rearing concerns and receive support from other moms.
A major reason could be quick feedback from their e-cohort, not to mention steep medical costs and waiting times for appointments with doctors, according to a Missouri statement.
"Mothers have feelings that they might be embarrassed to talk about face-to-face with someone," said Jean Ispa, professor and co-chair of human development and family studies at Missouri 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," adds Ispa.
Ispa and Noriko Porter, who completed her doctorate at Missouri and now is an instructor of human development at Washington State University, monitored online message boards hosted by two popular parenting magazines.
They 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.
"One of the benefits of message boards is that they are constantly available, so parents can communicate with other parents anytime. Instead of or after consulting with medical professionals, some mothers look for quick feedback from their e-cohort," said Ispa.
"High medical costs and waiting times for appointments may be contributing to mothers turning to the Internet for quick and practical solutions from their peers," added Ispa.
Although message boards provide accessible communication outlets for parents, the information available on the boards sometimes conflicts with information in other messages or from health care professionals and can be inaccurate, Ispa said.