Where mums (and some dads) meet to share their wisdom online.By Mumsnet Ltd
Back in the autumn of 1999, Justine Roberts was heading off on holiday with husband and twin one-year-old daughters in tow. Sights set on a relaxing, sun-drenched holiday in Florida, the holiday ended up being fraught with difficulties. The flight was too long for the young girls, the sun too hot, the time difference too great to acclimatise to in a short period, and the resort was a joke. Roberts spent most of the holiday wishing she was back home – and that she had done better research, or had somewhere to go to find out what other new parents had done.
Back on home turf the indefatigable Roberts decided to do something to plug the gap. She came up with the idea of an online forum for parents that could be used to share information and advice, exchange anecdotes and stories about the trials and tribulations of parenting, and connect with other parents.
Today Mumsnet has 4.3 million monthly, unique visitors and over 60 million monthly page views, making it the UK’s largest website aimed at parents. At its heart is a massive repository of discussion forums that members set up according to topics of interest from parenting practices to childcare to products – but also politics, social affairs, culture and much more. It also supports a growing community of parent bloggers – around 5,000 – as well as a couple of hundred local sites that are partnered with Mumsnet. In 2011 Mumsnet spawned Gransnet, now the most popular social media site for grandparents to share stories, tips and ideas through forums.
Beyond these core activities, many credit the site with a key role in changing traditional, pejorative representations from parents, from dowdy, insular, unaware ‘mums’ to a powerful, politically engaged, socially aware group with considerable influence as ‘swing voters’. It is what has led to an increasing attempt by politicians to court the Mumsnet lobby through taking part in webchats on the site with Mumsnet users.
The 2009 UK general election was even coined the ‘Mumsnet election’ by several newspapers. Radio 4 recently rated Roberts and her co-founder Carrie Longton the 7th most powerful women in the UK. Beyond the everyday support, advice and encouragement that Mumsnet users provide each other, Mumsnet’s contribution to raising the profile of mothers and parents is what gives this social tech innovation its lasting impact.
Image 'Mommy Sandwich - Week 2 my kids & me' courtesy of Theresa Martell
Last updated: 09th of May, 2014