Development of Cybermoms: A Computer-mediated Peer Support Group to Address the Needs of Young Mothers
AbstractThis article presents findings from a three-year demonstration project in Sudbury, Ontario that used Internet-based technologies combined with other program elements to support teen mothers through the establishment of a computer-mediated peer support group. Based on an analysis of survey data and qualitative data from online chat messages, we conclude that most participants of the Cybermoms program gained some benefit from access to computers and the Internet, particularly in terms of online peer support. While online participation cannot immediately change life circumstances related to poverty, interactions within the program, such as the real time chat sessions with social service providers and decision-makers supported the young women in transcending some of the limitations and boundaries of their lives. Sharing experiences and knowledge helped young women to deal with the challenges of parenting and to navigate through the requirements of oppressive service systems. Other benefits of ICT technologies included schooling, labour market transitioning, and life skills that arose from interacting with others and learning ICT.