Using Twitter Data to Study Attitudes, Values, and Feelings Related to Family Life
To what extent do social media users report negative or positive affects on topics relevant to the fertility domain? In a recent study published in Demographic Research, Letizia Mencarini and colleagues used computational linguistic techniques to explore opinions and semantic orientations related to parenthood on Twitter. They looked at Italy as the country of study and looked specifically at attitudes, values and feelings related to family life.
Empirically, their results provide insight into the ‘parenthood happiness paradox’: Positive and negative feelings toward parenthood co-exist in the Italians' tweets. Parents tend to express a generally positive attitude towards being and becoming parents, but they are also fearful, surprised and sad. They have quite negative sentiments about their children’s future, politics, fertility and parental behaviour. By exploiting geographical information from tweets, they found a significant correlation between the prevalence of positive sentiments about parenthood and macro-regional indicators of both life satisfaction and fertility level. As a methodological outcome, the paper proposes a model for collecting and semantically annotating Twitter data for demographic research on parenthood and fertility.