An Integrative Review: Understanding Parental Use of Social Media to Influence Infant and Child Health
Parents of young children have unique informational needs and it has been demonstrated that information-seeking behaviors influence health outcomes. Due to social media’s popularity, understanding parents’ use of social media may assist in disseminating accurate parenting information and in developing targeted interventions. Thus, we aimed to identify and describe the existing literature of parental use of social media for parenting in the U.S.
After searching nine databases with two separate Boolean phrases, identified articles were reviewed. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, resulting in 12 articles published between January 2004 and May 2018 that related to parental use of social media for parenting or infant health in the U.S. Data from relevant articles were then extracted and analyzed.
Facebook was the most frequent social media format. Parental utilization of social media varied by race/ethnicity and region. Studies primarily focused on women and a range of article topics were identified, the most common being infant feeding practices. Finally, two themes emerged: (1) parental support via social media and (2) effectiveness of using social media for health communication targeting parents.
Conclusions for Practice
Social media provided support for parents and was effective for communicating health information; thus, public health organizations should include social media in their efforts to promote infant and child health. More research is needed to further identify demographic differences in social media use among parents.
KeywordsInfant and child health Public health Social media Parenting Demographic factors Health communication
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