World Breastfeeding Week happens each year during the first week of August (in Canada it is celebrated during the first week of October). This year, the theme is “Talk to me: Breastfeeding – a 3D experience”. The focus this year is on communication, with an emphasis on the role that digital media can play in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
Recent statistics show that:
- 79% of all adults are online
- 95% of millennials (ages 18-33) are online
- 86% of generation x (ages 34-45) are online
- Searching for health information is the 3rd most popular online activity for all Internet users ages 18 and older (after e-mail and search engine use)
These same statistics show us the percentage of people using social networking sites by age group:
- 83% of millennials (ages 18-33)
- 62% of generation x (ages 34-45)
- 50% of younger boomers (ages 46-55),
- 43% of older boomers (ages 56-64)
From these statistics, it’s easy to see that if we are not reaching out to moms and moms-to-be via social media, we are missing out on a wonderful way to connect with them and provide accurate information and support. For millennials, social networking sites are the fourth most popular online activity. It’s obvious that if we want to reach moms-to-be, and moms with young children who are breastfeeding, social media is the way to go.
I remember as a new mom spending a lot of time online. I was able to find information, get support from others going through the same things as me, and sometimes help others who were looking for support with their own issues. Peer-to-peer support is so important when it comes to breastfeeding. Humans are social creatures by nature, and we are not meant to breastfeed or parent in isolation. In today’s world, social media is one of the ways that many moms are seeking out the support they need.
Along with peer-to-peer support, parents also need accurate, evidenced based information from experts, to help them make informed decisions. This is where we see a gap with social media use. There just are not as many of the older generations (the ones who often have the knowledge and expertise that moms are looking for) using social media. A common reason for this that I have heard among those that I have talked to, is not seeing the value of social media. “How can you help someone in 140 characters?” was something I heard once when talking about Twitter, and I know many people feel the same about other forms of social media.
So, in light of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme, I wanted to collect stories from those people who have been impacted by social media (for better or worse) during their breastfeeding journey. Has social media been a source of information or support for you? How did/does it impact your breastfeeding? Have you found help through social media with problems that you were having? Where did you find that support? Are there any drawbacks you’ve found to using social media as a source of information/support? Please tell me your story by posting in the comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you!