Is there value in Facebook for organizations like Parents as Teachers? As the National Center plans a conference later this year that looks to the future of parenting, one of the issues that keeps surfacing is the disconnect between time-honored face-to-face communication and the burgeoning social networks like Facebook.
Certainly there’s unprecedented value for young parents in having that in-person connection with someone they trust, whether that person is mom, grandma, a friend who’s already ‘been there’ or a trained parent educator. But is there value in developing social connections through vehicles like Facebook to share parenting advice and inspiration?
Erin, a young Parents as Teachers mom I spoke to recently, told me that while she appreciates the group meeting announcements and fliers about local events her parent educator gives her, she would rather toss them all and find the information in an online calendar. When she’s looking for places to go and things to do with her kids a paper handout is not her first resource; the Internet is. Another mom, Christi, echoes her technology plea. “I work, so when my parent educator leaves a voicemail at home that she’s rescheduling a visit I don’t get it until I get home. I much prefer to communicate with parent educators and teachers by e-mail that I can access throughout the day.”
For parent support organizations who are nimble enough to keep up, this offers new options as well as cost savings. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, social network usage among adults is booming. Will Parents as Teachers programs and parent educators be able…and willing…to keep up?