Meeting the Digital Content Needs of Non-Traditionally Represented Families

This group tends to be dissatisfied with online parenting information, according to a recent Verywell Family study

Television shows like Glee, Jane the Virgin, and The Fosters all spotlight non-traditionally represented families. These programs, and those like them, have helped single moms and dads, LGBTQ+ parents and extended family households feel seen and understood. While this inclusion is a step in the right direction for the media industry, we at Verywell Family knew there was still room for improvement.

Our team was specifically curious how non-traditionally represented families feel they’re served via digital content—a space that continuously garners more of people’s time and attention than traditional content mediums. So, this past October, we polled a racially diverse group of 1,828 American parents raising traditionally and non-traditionally represented families. (The former of which we define as parents in heterosexual partnerships raising children together in the same household.) We asked them to share their sentiments on things like their level of urgency while Googling parenting questions and how well they feel family-centric sites speak to households like theirs.

Below are some of the most interesting takeaways. Plus, how we feel digital parenting destinations can better cater to all families.

Looking for advice

Depending on their family structure, parents look for advice in different places.

“How do you treat diaper rash?” “How should I talk to my kid about pride?” “How can I help my child build self-esteem?” When people have questions, they, of course, look for the answers. But we found that the way parents seek out information varies greatly depending on their family structure.

While traditionally represented parents mostly rely on family members to answer their queries, 37% also search for direction online at least once a week. Comparatively, 59% of non-traditionally represented parents seek online advice at least once a week while fielding fewer questions to relatives.

Our findings also suggest that non-traditionally represented parents have a higher level of urgency when searching for parenting information than their traditionally represented counterparts. Nearly 40% of them said they need answers to their question the moment they’re looking for them online, whereas only 18% of traditionally represented parents felt similarly.

Finding digital parenting content to be lacking

Many non-traditionally represented parents are unsatisfied with digital parenting content. Our study found that one-third of non-traditionally represented parents are dissatisfied “often” or “all the time” when searching for parenting information online.

The study respondents in this group felt that the authors were not trustworthy, and the information could better cater to families like theirs. Respondents noted that these feelings of dissatisfaction caused them to lose confidence in their parenting skills and delay parenting decisions.

Loyalty to inclusive brands

Non-traditionally represented parents are more loyal to parenting brands that represent them. Thirty-one percent of non-traditionally represented parents said they would prefer to visit a website where families like theirs are reflected in the content. This group also said they’d stay on an inclusive site and search for more content instead of conducting a new search engine query that may drive them elsewhere.

Non-traditionally represented parents are also more likely than their traditional counterparts to purchase a product from a website that provides valuable, inclusive parenting information.

How content can better cater to non-traditionally represented families

To understand how we can better serve this audience, we went right to the source: our survey participants. Overall, non-traditionally represented parents felt that:

Content should be specific to the dynamic of diverse families: Eighty-two percent of non-traditionally represented parents want to see more digital parenting information relevant to their families. To meet this need, content should cater to this group and their realities. That might mean creating articles specifically for them, being inclusive when reporting a more general story, or both.

Trust can be fostered through informed writers and experts: Hiring an author who understands the nuances of the challenges a non-traditionally represented family faces is vital. Whenever possible, content should also be reviewed by an expert on the story topic. For example, this might mean working with a licensed social worker who counsels LGBTQ+ families or extended family households.

Visual representation is vital: Non-traditionally represented parents are nearly 1.6 times more likely to frequent parenting websites where they feel represented through images and videos. Sites should create visual content that normalizes the dynamics of non-traditionally represented households. This tells site visitors: We see you, we welcome you, you can trust us and we can help you.

Rachel Berman was part of the leadership team that launched the Verywell brand and oversees content and business strategies for Verywell Fit, Family and Mind. She is one of the go-to voices in her field, with numerous appearances on the Today Show, NY1, and many other media outlets.