Updated March 26 at 6:25pm

Immediate, flexible community is result of social media


What does every parent want? Besides more sleep and a surefire way to balance the demands of raising a family, we want to share information easily and have a community we feel a part of.

Being a parent can be an isolating experience, so it’s natural to look for ways to connect both at work and play: sharing news and photos with our friends and family, bonding with other parents who are going through the same joys and struggles, nurturing our hobbies or passions to escape the daily challenges of parenthood, working remotely and finding useful resources.

At the recent Kidoinfo Parents Using Social Media event, more than 60 parents gathered in downtown Providence to talk and learn about how some parents use social media to enhance their lives and strengthen communities.

Today’s parents have a great deal of technology at their fingertips. Whether we consider ourselves techy or a techophobe, early or reluctant adopters of social media, many of us are using some form of social media in our personal lives to find playdates and child care, to fund-raise for school PTOs, and in business to allow for more flexible work schedules and provide new ways to do our work.

One of the panelists, TJ Sondermann, shared his experience of being a stay-at-home dad and feeling isolated until he met other fathers by using social media sites like Flickr, where users can tag photos in a number of ways, including location. Some of TJ’s online connections turned into real-life friendships, and in some cases these friendships led to business opportunities. He is now the program director for BetaSpring.

Social media is well-suited to parents who need immediate access to resources. Whether for business or family needs, the Internet is available 24/7, allowing us to get what we need on demand – quite helpful since we often can’t control a child’s sleep schedule.

Parents blog about everything these days, from raising kids to politics and the environment. We seek answers and advice on raising our kids and how or where to look for the best day care and schools. We share photos on Flickr and upload videos on YouTube. Some use sites like DonorsChoose.org to raise money for school field trips and form social-networking communities at sites like Ning.com.

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