Farmville, Mafia Wars, Zynga, and “Word” games on FB keep the mind sharp and competitive. Or do they? Mangibin regards these online games as “mindless fun whenever I get relief from my family duties.” Social media has been a godsend for moms like Mangibin, who work part-time around their children and look to escape the call of duty every once in a while: “I do the games … to escape into virtual reality now and then.” Whatever value online games provide for some moms, social media in general provides additional hidden values for others.
Nicole Huebner, 33, of Hicksville, gives so much of herself to helping others that she’s often conflicted with the desire and/or inability to attend to her own needs. Mom to Haley, 9, and Justin, 4, Heubner went back to complete her college degree, and is PTA Recording Secretary and Chair of Fundraising at her children’s school. She says, “When you are a mother, a student, and volunteer what little time you have left you can lose your identity and become bitter or withdrawn from actual social happenings. (Social media) is one way I stay connected and don’t lose all of me in doing for everyone else… It has also helped me to put my life into perspective and be more grateful for what I do have.”
Jean Schapowal, 46, mom to Kristen, 15, Nicole, 12, and Jonathan, 7, is a supermom from Hicksville. A veritable potential (pardon the oxymoron) “Cake Boss” contender, Schapowal found that social media opened the doors to something she didn’t expect: “I was posting pictures of family and of my hobbies (art, illustration and of course my cakes), people would forward my name around and before you know it, most of my customers contact me through Facebook… I have been lucky enough over the years to hook up with restaurants.” Schapowal also does charity events and competes nationally thanks mostly to FB. “I have made many friends in the industry and could only have done so through social media… Just (recently) I met several online cake decorators out in Oklahoma at the Oklahoma Sugar Art Show! … I’ve been offered many exciting business opportunities through Facebook as well just by posting my work! I have to say I should have done it sooner!”
Kosnar finds social media helpful in that she can post meetings, agendas, workshops and training: “I can alert the media of rallies to help schools in need of help. I send updates via FB … It makes life easier. Now I don’t have to send notices to all the schools via letters in back packs. Parents know exactly where to go if they want to be a proactive part of their children’s education.” Schapowal is PTA president of her son’s elementary school and finds FB a “great way to keep in touch with parents and keep them up to date on upcoming events and projects.”
On a business level, social media helps Melissa, 41 (who prefers not use her last name), a professional photographer formerly of New York but now living in Chicago, and mom of Tommy, 12, and Lauren, 9, “promote my business and keep my name in front of potential clients that are also friends… On a social level, I love that I can stay connected with friends in 5 minutes or less, as busy schedules may prohibit us from catching up often.”
Studies found that a good percentage of social media users are busy parents who, after running around all day put the kids in bed, unwind and socialize virtually. According to “Tech-Savvy Moms Increase Social Media Use by 462%” (http://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/tech-savvy-moms-increase-social-media-use-by-462-9699/), a 2009 study conducted by BabyCenter, “39% of moms say their time online is often the most peaceful part of their day. Michelle Laliberte, 37, of Hicksville, and mom of Samantha, 9, adds: “(FB is) great! And it’s definitely a way to unwind, vent and catch up with friends.”
Again, for some moms social media provides hidden values: soul-searching and venting, school and social issues concerning their children, promoting and maintaining a business, sharing a passion and hobby, or keeping in touch with friends and relatives near and far. But for other moms, social media is a diversion — a momentary break in their routines. An escape to “Café World.”