Monday, September 16, 2013

Social Media Baby Peer Pressure

If you're my age (31), and are on, say, Facebook, then many of your friends are likely posting lots and lots of pictures of babies. Is everyone our age having children?

Of course not. But sometimes on Facebook, it can seem like it, to the point where I think it's an effective form of peer pressure. Like, "Look at what we have. Don't you want one, too?" Were Amber and I were still childless at this point, seeing everyone else's children would help encourage us to have our own, I would think. Sure, there is the occasional "OMG WHY WON'T MY BABY GO TO @#$%ING SLEEP" kind of post, but the vast majority of child-related stuff people post on Facebook is positive, or at least cute. All I know is that if Amber and I wanted kids, but were unable to have them, then it would be pretty tough to look at Facebook every day.

On the other hand...maybe there aren't as many child-related posts on Facebook as it seems. Having my own child actually makes me more interested in your child, not less, since I can relate more. Maybe all these child pictures were there all along, before Marla was born, and I just didn't really notice like I do now. Baby pictures really stick out now.

Well, in any case, I thought it would be worth checking if we're in the midst of a "baby boom", or if it just seems like it thanks to social media. And...no. According to the CDC, the birth rate in the United States hasn't changed much since the 1970s. If anything, birth rates have gone down - but not in a statistically signifcant sense - the last two years (source).

So, if today's internet society does provide more "child bearing peer pressure" than we used to have, it certainly doesn't show up in the national statistics*. Surely, there are much more important societal factors which encourage, or discourage, couples our age from having children.*

(* - Obviously, this is nothing even remotely resembling a full statistical analysis. Even if the birth rate did go up over the last few years, we could hardly pin it all in social media.)

2 comments:

Ginny said...

I agree that social media can be a source of (sometimes unintentional) peer pressure. I recently had a miscarriage and I thought I had come to terms with it and was able to manage my emotions... Until I logged into Facebook and saw 2 (not one but two!) friends from unrelated circles announcing their pregnancies. Just brought up even more mixed emotions -joy for those couples, pain because we should have been announcing too, etc.

I have always loved kids and wanted a lot of my own (I'm the oldest of 7 kids), so I always loved seeing the pictures on Facebook.... Until our own unfortunate circumstances. I had to take a step away from Facebook for a while actually.

We have recently started trying again, so hopefully we will unintentionally become part of the peer pressure. Just thought I'd share our story. =)

Love reading your blogs and stalking your baby pics. =)

Ginny

bubba0077 said...

I don't think it is so much social media, but society itself that imposes pressure, and that has gone down over the years. I don't think Facebook's baby pictures impose much additional pressure unless you already want a baby. What Facebook can do is keep reinforcing a loss, like what Ginny experienced, but (not to compare the magnitude of the feeling) so can seeing pictures of couples after a break-up, or other people's parents when you've lost your own, etc.