A new study from Ohio State University has found new moms use Facebook more than others, specifically as a way to show off their new babies. Mothers who see themselves as perfectionists and those who want validation as a mother post most often among the bunch.
Moms who post more frequently also feel stronger emotional reactions to comments on photos of new babies, and would even act sad if they didn't get enough positive comments about their baby's photos.
Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, lead author of the study and professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, said these mothers may have unhealthy habits when it comes to using the social network.
"If a mother is posting on Facebook to get affirmation that she's doing a good job and doesn't get all the 'likes' and positive comments she expects, that could be a problem. She may end up feeling worse," Schoppe-Sullivan said in a press release.
And she's right, to a point. The study, which looked at the Facebook habits of highly educated and mostly married moms from the Midwest who had full-time employment, found mothers who checked Facebook the most were also more likely to suffer from depression in the nine months after giving birth.
Jill Yavorsky, co-author of the study, said new moms should be aware that Facebook isn't the best place to seek validation for being a mother.
"The message of the study isn't that Facebook is necessarily harmful but that using Facebook may not be an effective platform for women to seek and gain external validation that they're good moms," she said.
Of course, not all the moms used Facebook in unhealthy ways. On average, new moms had a slight increase in Facebook use after their babies were born. Close to 98 percent of the moms in the study said they uploaded photos of their newborn. About 80 percent of these moms said they put their baby in their profile picture.
"What these mothers are saying is that my child is central to my identity, at least right now. That's really telling," Schoppe-Sullivan said.
While it's clear new moms are all about that Facebook flow, most American parents are unsure about how much they should post on social media networks about their children. According to The Wall Street Journal, a recent survey found that the average parent will post about 1,000 photos of their children online, with many parents not asking permission from their children before posting. These parents don't even check their own privacy settings before posting, either.
That's problematic, critics say, since public photos of your child can expose youngsters to the wider Internet, putting them at risk for embarrassment or exposure.
But some parents are a little less concerned, arguing that parents should feel free to post about their children as freely as they want.
"It's a way to strengthen an online social circle, they say, and connect with people you didn't know before," according to WSJ. "What's more, children are going to end up on social media eventually, they say, and parents can set a good example for them by being careful about what photos they post and asking permission when children are old enough to consent."
This ability to build an online community has in fact driven many parents to post their child's picture online. They feel support from the community, and engaged with people they don't know in real life.
Still, there's the worry that the photos will spread too far and end up in the wrong hands. And, as the aforementioned study mentioned, it's possible that seeking approval from other mothers based on what you post could put you on a path for depression.
"These issues are thorny enough when deciding to post pictures of ourselves online-in fact, research shows that adults are sharing less personal content on social-networking sites (much to Facebook's chagrin). They may be compounded for children," WSJ reported
That's why Lisa Tierney-Keogh, a New York-based mother, said she only posts some photos of her children online. Some don't deserve to be seen by others - like "bath time" photos - but ones that show her accomplishing important tasks do, according to MarketWatch.
In fact, Tierney-Keogh will also make sure her child is never directly looking in the camera, either. She doesn't want other parents being overburdened with photos of her child.
"It doesn't come from a place of fear, it comes from a place of sensitivity and protection," she told MarketWatch. "It's hard to raise a child in America. There's a lot of competition to be seen to be doing well and always capturing those perfect family moments."