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Mom 3.0: Wired to juggle

What's for dinner tonight? Check your recipe iPhone app and your electronic shopping list.

Free for a play date next week? Sync your kids' schedules on Google calendar.

Looking for ideas on potty training? Sign onto a virtual community and see how other moms handle it.

How did the last generation of moms live without smart phones?

Moms raising kids today have embraced the communications revolution to make parenting easier and richer, said Maria Bailey, whose Pompano Beach-based BSM Media specializes in marketing to moms. She calls it Mom 3.0, the title of her new book on the trend.

Dads can be just as savvy with social media. But online moms are rapidly becoming one of marketers' most coveted target groups for their interactivity -- and their influence on each other. Moms make most of the spending decisions for the family -- and studies show moms are more likely to buy a product or visit a destination if another mom recommends it.

Stefani Newman, 32, of Fort Lauderdale is a telling example.

She rolls out of bed, checks her e-mail on her iPhone, then gets her two girls -- 4-year-old Natalie and 6-year-old Nissa -- ready for school.

Phone alarms remind her of a playdate that afternoon. Her iPhone calendar syncs with her Google calendar and her husband's calendar. The digital notepad is her daily shopping and to-do list. She said was always a pen and paper person, but her iPhone is more convenient.

Newman has also downloaded a few iPhone applications for her kids to use when they get bored, like math, Scrabble, Bloggle or popping virtual bubblewrap. While her daughters are at school, she's blogging at TeensyGreen.com on eco-friendly parenting.

And, of course, she's on Twitter, too.

"The moms that I've met on it are incredible,'' she said.

Not every mom is wired the same. Generation X and Y moms have embraced social networking. Grandparents jumped online to keep in touch with grandkids. Boomer moms, busy blazing the trail of work and family balance, have been the slowest adapters.

"The younger generation is all about customizing motherhood. They are customizing everything from teddy bears to TiVo,'' Bailey said. "They can be NoDramaMomma online or YogaMom or whatever they want their identity to be.''

Nielsen Online research shows that moms age 25 to 45 are nearly twice as likely as the average Web user to give frequent advice on parenting, household products and beauty. And these online moms are nearly 25 percent more likely than the average person to write a blog.

Bailey estimates there are 26 million mom bloggers. Many started blogging to socialize and share, overcome isolation or chronicle their pregnancy for their children.

Moms don't just Google a question. They post it to their networks on MomsMiami, Twitter, Facebook or a blog, and within minutes, moms from all over are responding.

A couple of recent events show the power of such influence on products:

• On April 22, Apple pulled an iPhone app called "Baby Shaker'' in response to outraged moms and child-welfare advocates. The game featured a crying baby on the screen. If you shook the phone hard enough, red X's appeared over the baby's eyes. (Shaking a real baby can cause brain damage).



• Motrin got a big headache last year when moms flocked to the Internet to protest an

ad

showing a mom complaining of neck and shoulder pain from "wearing'' her baby in a pouch. Motrin's makers, Johnson & Johnson, pulled the ad and apologized.



But moms come together, too, to share triumphs and losses that maybe only parents can really understand. Like the tragic story last month of Heather Spohr.

The Los Angeles mom blogger had been writing about her 17-month-old daughter, Maddie, since before she was born. She had also become active on Twitter, with thousands of followers.

When Maddie suddenly got sick, then died, the story played out live on the Internet.

Within two days, moms from all over were turning their Twitter page backgrounds purple in honor of Maddie, releasing balloons in her memory and raising $21,000 -- which has since grown to $35,000 -- for the March of Dimes.

That kind of bond, which transcends geography, is what draws many moms to online networks.

Renee McLeroy, 41, a Hollywood mother of two, said her wired life started when she found DiaperPin.com and began chatting on the forums.

"I used to go there and just lurk because it felt like I was getting some kind of adult conversation in my day,'' she said. "I made friends that I still talk to six years later.''

Now McLeroy blogs about her 5-year-old daughter's autism therapy on MomsMiami and networks with other local moms on all sorts of topics.

"Before I had my daughter, I really wasn't very techy. After I became a stay-at-home mom, it became my lifeline,'' she said.

Networks helped her through pregnancy. And when she wasn't sure if she was going into labor, she asked her network. Within 10 minutes, she got six other moms were telling her yes, it was time to go to the hospital. And when her child had a fever in the middle of the night, within five minutes other moms gave her guidance.

"At 2 o'clock in the morning, there's nothing better than another mom saying that it's OK.''

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