Moms and mobile: is there any topic more written about than this? Probably not, but there are good reasons for this. Mobile is important to moms but also brings about conflicted feelings, making mobile a source of tension for many moms. This tension was clear in the findings of our latest global study, “The Truth About Connected You.” The majority of moms (83%) we surveyed said they think their mobile device has improved their family life, but 32% said they are also worried that sometimes their mobile distracts them from what matters most.
Should we be surprised by this tension? I would argue no and for one simple reason: According to the study, we’re all teenagers when it comes to mobile devices. A key finding revealed that, on average, global consumers have had mobile devices of some form or another for 12 years (12.7 years in the U.S. and 13.9 in the UK). While it seems as though mobiles have been around forever, and many adults think they have their mobile life figured out, the reality is we’re still wet behind the ears when deciphering the nuances of mobile communication and a life lived through a small screen.
One of the challenges of our teenage years is figuring out how to manage our relationships, and this is just one of the ways we see many consumers, and particularly moms, grappling with mobile adolescence. Moms have an intense relationship with their devices. Given a selection of images to represent the relationship they have with their smartphones, moms were most likely to select images that depicted highly emotional relationships such as two friends sitting together (35%) or even two people in love (21%). And as one woman in the U.S. said of her smartphone partner: “We never part ways or leave each other’s side for too long.”
As moms deepen their relationship with mobile, they need to avoid the teenage trap of letting that relationship become all-consuming. Just under half of the moms we surveyed, (43%) agreed that they laugh and smile more looking at their mobile device than they do looking at or talking to other people compared to 33% of the total survey population who agreed with this statement. The depth of this relationship is a cause for concern among some moms. Indeed, 75% of moms worry that their emotional connections are weaker than in the past, and many worry what implications this has for the future. One mom in our study reflected on the future of connections and observed, “Hopefully, people will keep a good balance so we still communicate physically and not only throughout a screen.”
There are many ways for brands to help moms as they evolve from mobile adolescence to wireless womanhood, but one of the best opportunities is to find creative ways to improve not just the quantity or speed of moms’ connections but the quality as well. We already see creative examples of brands putting this principle into action. One way is to use technology to help us tune out in order to tune in better. Arianna Huffington recently launched the GPS for the Soul App, which can detect when you’re stressed and then help you reach a happier place by playing the music or poetry you love or showing you pictures of your loved ones. What mom wouldn’t find inspiration in that?
From a marketing perspective, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that we’re all still figuring out our mobile lives. Each member of the family, whether they’re 15, 35, or 55, probably behaves a bit like a teen on their mobile at some point. Mobile moms are no exception; it’s possible that they just might need a little parenting of their own.