Momfluencers are negatively impacting new motherhood, new study shows

If you’re a new mom, staying away from social media may be better for you than you think. A new study examined the online culture of “momfluencers” and their effect on the moms who consume their content, and the findings were more than a little concerning.

The study, published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, found that momfluencers’ glamorized and polished portrayals of motherhood — like their constantly clean homes, happy kids, and put-together hair, makeup, and outfits — can cause anxiety and envy to spike, especially for new moms.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln surveyed 464 new moms. Their goal was to identify if there were any particular traits that make certain moms more susceptible to negative feelings brought on by seeing momfluencers’ content. They found that those with a higher “social comparison orientation” suffered the worst negative effects, and were more likely to internalize the online content and feel less confident in their own parenting abilities as a result.

“We all have this tendency to compare, but some of us are more inclined to compare than others,” lead researcher Ciera Kirkpatrick wrote. “If we know how these posts are affecting mothers and that they are more detrimental to certain moms, then that helps us, from a strategic health communications or health professional standpoint.”

In other words, knowing who might be more vulnerable to this type of content can help experts, like health professionals, intervene early on, before it has a chance to cause negative impacts.

Another interesting result from the study is that it showed that this is one case where the shift from photo content to videos on TikTok and Reels has been better for audiences because it’s harder for momfluencers to stage and edit videos exactly the way they want.

“I think it was simpler, with a photo, to capture exactly what you want and leave out everything else,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a little bit harder to make sure everything’s perfect in a video, and I’ve seen more of a push for showing realistic portrayals of motherhood as I’ve been collecting these types of posts for the next study.”

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