AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three professors at Pepperdine University studied a group of new moms and found the more time they spent on mom-centric social networking sites like Facebook mom groups, the higher their stress levels.

“I think a lot of parents have more anxiety and a lot more guilt, fear because they feel like they’re living in a microscope and constantly being judged out there,” said Austin pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown.

Twenty years ago, Brown wrote “Baby 411”, a book to help new parents navigate the stress and anxiety of raising a newborn. The book is updated every two years and was first released largely before parents turned to social networking sites for parenting advice.

“I think that parents are asking better questions because they go and read about things online,” said Brown. “So I think that at a certain level, you actually are a better parent because you have more access to information. The problem is that access can also create a lot of anxiety and send you down the rabbit hole.”

The study from Pepperdine University explains, “higher cortisol levels pose direct implications on one’s well-being, including mortality, and beyond that, higher levels of maternal cortisol are associated with lower maternal sensitivity, which results in less healthy caregiving. Thus, discovering reasonable practices on social media is an important step for a mother’s health as well as her child’s.“

Brown suggests new parents look for data-driven information when on social media. It’s one reason many physicians, including Brown, have turned to TikTok and other social media sites to help parents stay informed.

“Whether I’m in exam room 1 answering questions, or whether I’m writing books, or now I’m making TikTok videos, it’s really to allow families to find me and be able to find the content, so that they can really feel empowered, and be able to understand what’s happening when they hear really scary things such as RSV, such as flu, what do I do, how to protect my kid? How do I know if my child is having labored breathing? I mean, one of the really beautiful things about having video on some of these social media platforms is to be able to show a family you know, this is what a child with labored breathing looks like. And that’s something you can’t do in a book.”