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15-02-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 10/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 10/2020

Using Focus Groups to Understand the Dynamics of Mothers and Daughters on Social Networking Sites

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 10/2020
Sara Santarossa, Sarah J. Woodruff
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Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



The mother/daughter relationship has been deemed critical for the positive development of self-esteem, body image, and eating behaviors for adolescent girls. As maternal modeling exists offline between mothers and adolescent daughters, a similar influence could be exercised by the fast evolution of digital culture, such as social networking sites (SNSs), thus making it imperative that online mother/daughter relationship be considered and investigated.


The current study qualitatively examined the mother/daughter dynamic on SNSs with particular emphasis on exploring the SNS-related influences and understanding what role mothers play in developing their daughters’ SNSs beliefs, attitudes social norms, and behaviors as well as to determine what daughters have learned from their mothers about SNSs. Sixteen mothers of girls born in 2003–2007 (Mage of their daughters = 12.78, SD = 1.31) participated in one of four focus group discussions. In addition, 26 girls born in 2003–2007 (Mage = 13.17, SD = 1.16) participated in one of four focus group discussions.


The transcripts from the focus groups (N = 8) were looked at as a whole and themes were drawn across the mothers and girls focus groups. Using a deductive and inductive approach, thematic analysis revealed five themes: being your authentic self, co-creating a digital footprint and online expectations, mother as a role model, connecting offline, and transmission of beauty ideals.


Results suggest that further research is needed to aid in the development of tools that will help foster positive online mother/daughter relationships.

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