The days of moms covertly stalking their children on MySpace or freaking out over Facebook party pics are not-so-slowly shifting to headier days of proactive moms using the Internet to meet their own needs.
A new study from BabyCenter shows that mothers' social media use has increased 462 percent over the past three years. The same group's mobile web usage is up 348 percent over the same period of time. And these moms aren't just keeping tabs on secretive teenagers. They're networking for themselves, finding answers online, and sharing stories about their offspring. The two-part study was conducted between 2006 and 2009 in conjunction with NovaQuant. BabyCenter also conducted a series of 18 in-depth surveys between January and June of 2009
This "21st Century Moms Report" states that the number of mothers using social networks has risen from 11 percent to 63 percent since 2006. And there's good news for brands who are using the same networks. According to the BabyCenter press release, "Forty-four percent [of moms on the social web] use social media for word-of-mouth recommendations on brands and products, and 73 percent feel they find trustworthy information about products and services."
As far as hardware is concerned, almost all moms - 91 percent - say they never leave home without a mobile device. More than half say they have replaced traditional photo albums with online photo-sharing services. And moms are also the primary console gamers in the household after the birth of a first or second child.
Health is an important vertical for digital moms. Again, the report reads, "In online communities, children's health issues are the leading topic of interest in online communities (91 percent), followed by childhood development tips (79 percent)." Mothers are also seeking out expert medical advice, parent-to-parent wisdom, and product reviews via social media.
As Gen X and millenial women and men come of age and start families, their technological preferences are applied to new aspects of life, as well. Longstanding sites such as BabyCenter and niche startups such as LilGrams are in excellent positions to serve the needs of digital parents and connect them to brands, hopefully in ways that are relevant, helpful, and innovative.