Understanding and Supporting Fathers and Fatherhood on Social Media Sites

CHI, pp. 1905-1914, 2015.

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miscellaneousparentsinternetsocial mediafathers
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Our results show that fathers’ motivations for using social media include documenting and archiving fatherhood, learning how to be a father, and accessing social support from other fathers

Abstract:

Fathers are taking on more childcare and household responsibilities than they used to and many non-profit and government organizations have pushed for changes in policies to support fathers. Despite this effort, little research has explored how fathers go online related to their roles as fathers. Drawing on an interview study with 37 fath...More

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Introduction
  • Since 2012, fathers have gathered at the Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual conference for father bloggers to interact with one another and with marketers and advertisers [40].
  • Following in the footsteps of Mom 2.0, founded in 2008, Dad 2.0 has brought mainstream attention to the growing presence of fathers and fathering online
  • These fathers are actively involved in raising their children and tend to despise the consumer marketing-perpetuated trope of the “hapless, bumbling” father [40].
  • The Internet offers a promising platform for supporting fathers and fatherhood, an area the authors explore in this work
Highlights
  • Since 2012, fathers have gathered at the Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual conference for father bloggers to interact with one another and with marketers and advertisers [40]
  • We find that fathers have a variety of motivations for using social media, which vary according to the particular settings and context of their family life
  • Results are organized around three overarching themes: use of social media to learn how to be a father, how diverse experiences influence social media use, and perceived barriers to sharing online
  • Social media sites served as filters for fathers to see parenting content without necessarily having to go look for it
  • Our results show that fathers’ motivations for using social media include documenting and archiving fatherhood, learning how to be a father, and accessing social support from other fathers
  • Fathers coming from diverse family environments rely on online spaces to find fathers in similar experiences
Methods
  • The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 37 fathers about their use of social media.
  • Most of the interviews were conducted with fathers in the U.S (n=31) but from Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and Jordan.
  • The authors recruited fathers by contacting organizations for fathers, posting advertisements on organizations’ Facebook pages, and Marital Status.
  • F01 Married CO FT BA PT Div CO FT HS PT.
  • F03 Married CO FT BA SAHM 3 1⁄2, 4, 6.
  • F04 Married GS FT BA PT
Results
  • Results are organized around three overarching themes: use of social media to learn how to be a father, how diverse experiences influence social media use, and perceived barriers to sharing online.
  • Fathers turned to online sites like Facebook to ask parenting questions and read parenting information from other parents.
  • Social media sites served as filters for fathers to see parenting content without necessarily having to go look for it.
Conclusion
  • Differences between Mothers and Fathers Online

    Fathers use social media to document and archive fatherhood and to access social support, similar to mothers [17,32,39].
  • Consider how a search of books for new fathers surfaces books that are referred to as “guides”, “manuals” or “advice”; this phenomenon is rarely observed as indicated by the same search for mothers books
  • This difference may emerge from early socialization processes through which mothers are expected to take to motherhood naturally [19].
  • The authors' results show that fathers’ motivations for using social media include documenting and archiving fatherhood, learning how to be a father, and accessing social support from other fathers.
  • The authors take an advocacy stance, arguing for more research that aims to understand fathers’ social lives and how they might be better supported through computing technologies
Summary
  • Introduction:

    Since 2012, fathers have gathered at the Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual conference for father bloggers to interact with one another and with marketers and advertisers [40].
  • Following in the footsteps of Mom 2.0, founded in 2008, Dad 2.0 has brought mainstream attention to the growing presence of fathers and fathering online
  • These fathers are actively involved in raising their children and tend to despise the consumer marketing-perpetuated trope of the “hapless, bumbling” father [40].
  • The Internet offers a promising platform for supporting fathers and fatherhood, an area the authors explore in this work
  • Methods:

    The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 37 fathers about their use of social media.
  • Most of the interviews were conducted with fathers in the U.S (n=31) but from Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and Jordan.
  • The authors recruited fathers by contacting organizations for fathers, posting advertisements on organizations’ Facebook pages, and Marital Status.
  • F01 Married CO FT BA PT Div CO FT HS PT.
  • F03 Married CO FT BA SAHM 3 1⁄2, 4, 6.
  • F04 Married GS FT BA PT
  • Results:

    Results are organized around three overarching themes: use of social media to learn how to be a father, how diverse experiences influence social media use, and perceived barriers to sharing online.
  • Fathers turned to online sites like Facebook to ask parenting questions and read parenting information from other parents.
  • Social media sites served as filters for fathers to see parenting content without necessarily having to go look for it.
  • Conclusion:

    Differences between Mothers and Fathers Online

    Fathers use social media to document and archive fatherhood and to access social support, similar to mothers [17,32,39].
  • Consider how a search of books for new fathers surfaces books that are referred to as “guides”, “manuals” or “advice”; this phenomenon is rarely observed as indicated by the same search for mothers books
  • This difference may emerge from early socialization processes through which mothers are expected to take to motherhood naturally [19].
  • The authors' results show that fathers’ motivations for using social media include documenting and archiving fatherhood, learning how to be a father, and accessing social support from other fathers.
  • The authors take an advocacy stance, arguing for more research that aims to understand fathers’ social lives and how they might be better supported through computing technologies
Tables
  • Table1: Participant and partner demographics. *Number of children. ** Ages of children. SAH[D/M]=Stay-at-home-
Download tables as Excel
Related work
  • We draw on theories about the social construction of fatherhood, what factors correspond to involved fathers, and prior work on parents online. We also describe differences between mothers and fathers online and offline.

    Throughout, we consider what prior work and our own studies mean for diverse families beyond a typical twoparent household that has often been assumed in studies of the family. This approach builds on a CHI 2013 workshop that explored what it means to design for diverse family structures and which advocated for more research towards this goal [23].

    Social Construction of Fatherhood

    Traditional perspectives on fatherhood have defined fathers as authority figures, breadwinners, and emotionally distant [29]. Fathers were expected to play an instrumental role in the family, ensuring the family was taken care of and order was kept; in contrast, mothers were expected to play the expressive role, nurturing the emotional wellbeing and development of the family [19,44]. Feminist movements uprooted these notions, advocating for equality in the workplace, and in the home in terms of childcare and household responsibilities. Notions of “new fatherhood” reflect changes in household behavior and expectations about how fathers should behave [18]; indeed, the amount of work fathers do at home has increased, though imbalances still exist [24]. However, change has been slow, in part because cultural products (e.g., laws and norms for paternity leave in most countries) tend to be conservative in their representations, reinforcing existing stereotypes rather than innovating in representations of gender relations [18].
Funding
  • Finds that they use social media to document and archive fatherhood, learn how to be a father, and access social support
  • Presents theoretical and design ideas for designing online spaces to better support fathers and fatherhood
  • Finds that fathers have a variety of motivations for using social media, which vary according to the particular settings and context of their family life
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