With the hundreds (if not thousands) of social networking options available on the World Wide Web, how can you know which one is the right fit for you? Check out our handy chart, which will show you the highs (and lows) of four of the most popular sites.
Who Uses It: This site is exclusively for moms who want to chat, get advice, share photos and more. You can search for—and then join—groups with similar interests, or you can get your current playgroup or mom club members to join and communicate with each other.
How It Works: Looking for advice on how to deal with a fussy toddler? Click on “Conversations” and find words of wisdom from moms across the country. If you don’t see the topic you’re looking for, you can start your own conversation. You can also search for moms by ZIP code and then send them friend requests (maybe you can even start a new playgroup!). You’ll also find conversations about TV shows, recipes and other sanity-savers and post photos of your cuties.
Pros and Cons: Pro: This site is specific to moms and parenting, unlike Facebook or MySpace. Con: Although the site started back in 2006, it’s not as well known as other social networking sites.
Is It Private? When you start your profile, go to “Settings” and then “Privacy.” There you can dictate who can see your profile, your name and more.
Who Uses It: Internet and smart phone users who want to share short bits of news frequently throughout the day. Search for friends—or, better yet, your fave celebs—to “follow” and you can read their tweets via e-mail or phone.
How It Works: Post your tweets—140 characters or fewer, so make them short!—about daily happenings, from the mundane (“Standing in line at Starbucks.”) to the exciting (“Just found out we’re expecting Baby No. 2!”). If you’re using a smart phone, you can use the Twitpic application to add photos to your tweets.
Pros and Cons: Pro: You can keep your followers updated quickly throughout the day—from playdates to bedtime. (And, reading celebrity tweets is an excellent way to kill 10 minutes.) Con: Twitter could be considered too complicated for technophobes.
Is It Private? When starting your account, click “Protect my tweets” so that only followers you have approved may read your tweets.
Who Uses It: Moms and dads who want to keep an online journal of their children’s early years. You can create a free journal with 100MB of space for up to three children, or pay $39 for more children and more space.
How It Works: Update your journal with all your child’s details, from an account of his first day on Earth to the color of his eyes. You can even include medical information so you can keep track of your child’s shots, illnesses and more. Click on “Share,” enter friends’ and family members’ e-mail addresses and they’ll receive an invitation to look at your journal.
Pros and Cons: Pro: Click “Make a Book” and you can turn your digital journal into a printed keepsake, with your choice of color scheme, cover photo and more (books start at $28). Con: May be more geared toward parents with newborns; if you’re starting a journal for an older kid, you’ll need several hours to add in stats, memories and digital photos.
Is It Private? Medical information is kept private, and other information in your journal is only viewable by people you invite via e-mail. You can designate friends and family members as “readers” only, or designate them as “editors” so they can modify content.
Who Uses It: Parents who want to share their little ones’ milestones electronically with friends and family. The short “Grams” are also stored in a private online baby book.
How It Works: The minute your little darling says her first word or takes her first step, you can send out a “Gram”—which can even include a photo or video—filed under one of six categories (food, growth, etc.). Friends and family can receive the “Grams” several different ways, including e-mail, mobile phone or Twitter. Recipients can even opt to have photos printed.
Pros and Cons: Pro: Recipients can choose how often they’d like to receive your updates, from immediately to monthly. Con: It’s pricey—plans start at $29 per year, which includes 5GB of space, tech support and more. (A 30-day free trial is available.)
Is It Private? Only people who are invited by mom or dad receive the “Grams.”