Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Sarah J Woodruff




In the offline world, research suggests that the mother/daughter relationship influences every stage of the daughter’s development and self-perception (Flaake, 2005), with the mother serving as a central role model and critical influencer in the positive growth of their daughters. However, the ever important mother/daughter relationship has become further complicated and/or redefined as connection and communication now extends into the ever evolving online world. Spending time online and particularly on social networking sites (SNSs) appears to be a part of daily behaviour for most Canadians (Statistics Canada, 2019). With maternal modelling existing offline between mothers and daughters, a similar influence could be exercised by the fast evolution of the digital environment and culture, thus making it imperative that online mother/daughter relationships be further considered. In addition, research suggests that parents feel unprepared to raise children in today’s online, media-rich world (Yardi & Bruckman, 2011), therefore, parent education programs/tools are needed to help guide appropriate navigation. As such, the purpose of this dissertation was to better understand the mother/daughter relationship on SNSs by exploring maternal modelling in relation to several psychosocial health and physical activity variables. Moreover, an overall goal of this dissertation was to use action research to develop a community-academic partnership (CAP) to create an evidence-based, sustainable, and usable outreach service for a community organization, for mothers, to use and evaluate in the future. These objectives were accomplished in three empirical studies. In Study 1 (Chapter 2) the mother/daughter dynamic on SNSs, with particular emphasis on exploring the SNS-related influences and understanding what role mothers play in developing their daughters' SNS beliefs, attitudes, social norms, and behaviours as well as to determine what daughters have learned from their mothers about SNSs, was examined through focus groups. Using a deductive and inductive approach, thematic analysis revealed five themes: being your authentic self, co-creating a digital footprint and online expectations, mother as a role model, connecting offline, and transmission of beauty ideals. The objective of Study 2 (Chapter 3) was to understand the dyadic relationships between SNS behaviours (i.e., use, photo activities, and interaction activities) and self-esteem, body satisfaction, societal and interpersonal aspects of appearance ideals, eating disorder symptoms/concerns, and physical activity behaviours among mothers and their daughters, through an online survey. Using a pooled regression Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) approach, results indicated that SNS behaviours predicted outcome variables for both mothers and daughter individually, as well as mothers’ SNS behaviours predicted daughters’ outcome variables. Lastly, using action research, in Study 3 (Chapter 4) the development phase of a CAP that designed a workshop and interactive toolkit (based on the formative research collected in Study 1 and 2) to educate mothers on how to navigate SNSs appropriately and create a positive digital footprint while fostering a transformative learning experience for the mothers with the desired impact to then reach their daughter, was explored. Findings suggest that although both collaborative processes (interpersonal and operational) were referenced as influential facilitating factors during the CAP’s development, operational processes were expressed as facilitating factors more often. The findings of this dissertation can be used to better understand online mother/daughter relationships, inform future research designs or directions, and make contribution to action research as it pertains to the development of parent education.