Social Media about Grandparents as Childcare Providers: Evidence from Russian Region




Social media and the internet are proving more and more popular, even among older people. While still providing child care, grandparents become active users of social media. This research aims to estimate whether publications mentioning grandparents explore the topic of raising grandchildren and whether the increasing activity of older people on social media results in more proactive grandparental labour. The paper analyses socio-political communities—including the mass media ones—of the largest social media in Russia—Facebook, VK, Instagram, Telegram, and Odnoklassniki. The location of the publications analysed is the Sverdlovsk Region. The sample included posts mentioning grandmothers and grandfathers. The analysis identified main topics which the publications mentioning grandparents are associated with and tried to find a correlation between their activity on social media and contribution to childcare. The research shows that the publications analysed are mostly related to the topics of safety and accidents. Education and childcare rank third in terms of the frequency of posts mentioning grandparents. The publications mention grandmothers more than three times more often than grandfathers. On the one hand, social media facilitate a better understanding between the younger and the older generations. On the other hand, social media may replace face-to-face communication with grandchildren. Grandparents are becoming less involved in raising grandchildren because of the increasing retirement age and state programmes that support social activity of the older generation, which is proved by their activity on social media and results of this study. However, in the Russian Federation, the state and information support for grandparental labour (i.e., grandparents’ activity while raising, educating, and taking care of grandchildren) may become one of the tools to promote fertility. The paper suggests several possible mechanisms to integrate grandparental labour in the economic subsystem of the society.