A few years ago, when Avi Moskowitz wanted advice about which highchair, stroller and car seat to buy for his first child, he didn’t turn to Consumer Reports or let his wife handle the research. He posted on Daddit, a part of the social networking site Reddit that was formed in 2011 to meet the growing demand of fathers seeking their own cozy corner of the web.
“On Daddit, you get the geekier side of the Internet, where people have done technical research about why this product is better than another product, but I think it also shows that dads are taking on more roles and responsibilities when it comes to parenting,” said Moskowitz, 27, who works at a security technology company in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.
Now, he also volunteers as a moderator for Daddit, which has more than 34,000 subscribers, almost twice that of Mommit, Reddit’s site for moms.
Copious evidence online suggests that dads want their own space there, whether public or private, to talk about their larger roles in the family (and to sometimes joke about them). “Daddy bloggers” have already earned large followings. But now there is also a growing number of Internet communities, networks, forums and email lists delving into the joys, trials and even public-policy aspects of being a father.
“No one teaches you how to be a dad,” said Bre Pettis, 42, a New York-based entrepreneur who turned to an invitation-only email list of hundreds of fathers from the technology and media worlds, called Nuevo Dads, when he had a harrowing experience with his premature daughter in the neonatal intensive-care unit.
“Many people shared stories of their experience in the NICU, and it made me feel less alone,” Pettis recalled in a phone interview before excusing himself to garden with his daughter, who will turn 4 in July.
Along with advice and comfort, dad-only forums also offer a “safe space” to blow off steam. Josh Levs, a journalist for CNN and father of three, posted, “When you have a nightmare that you’ve had another kid, it might be time to get a vasectomy,” on his closed dad-blogger Facebook group. Levs, 43, said he interacts with his dad group more than with his private friend group.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 48 percent of married-couple families in 2014 had both parents working. Along with that, “you have a younger generation of dads creating new demands for what they want online,” said Simon Isaacs, a founder, with Michael Rothman, both 34, of Fatherly, a mash-up of BuzzFeed and Vice for dads.
Its content runs the gamut, from a Q&A with Ziauddin Yousafzai, titled “What’s It Like to Raise a Nobel Peace Prize Winner? Ask Malala Yousafzai’s Dad,” to a two-minute therapy video on what to do if your partner thinks you’re working too much.
But Isaacs, the father of 2-month-old Kaia, said the No. 1 question dads seemed to have is relatively mundane: “What should I be doing with my kid today?”
To answer, Fatherly devised a series called 940 Saturdays, the number of Saturdays between when a child is born and when he or she turns 18 (a conceit borrowed from the author Dr. Harley Rotbart), with advice on topics like sand-castle building and learning to ski.
The brotherhood of fathers has migrated to Twitter, where there were 112 million dad-related tweets in 2014, compared with 212 million about moms. (And about 2.5 million active Twitter users mention dad or father in their Twitter bio, the company said.)
“It’s like a warm blanket to be able to bond with other dads,” said Andrew Adashek, 38, Twitter’s director of television partnerships and a father of two.
He uses the service as a “modern-age Dr. Spock” (not surprisingly, there is now a Dr. Spock website, and Twitter and Facebook accounts). He has sourced advice from other dads on what instrument to get for his 4-year-old son, Dylan (“whatever the grown-ups can tolerate!” one dad tweeted), and what children’s basketball league to join.
Famous athletes and movie stars are also using social media to share their experiences of both the banal and the larger injustices surrounding fatherhood. In November, LeBron James tweeted to his millions of followers about spending the early-morning hours with his newborn daughter.
In March, Ashton Kutcher, who became a father last year, took umbrage at public restrooms. “There are NEVER diaper-changing stations in men’s public restrooms. The first public men’s room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page!” he posted to his millions of Facebook followers, leading to the creation of the popular #pottyparity.
“I see dads moving from blogger mode to activist mode,” said Doyin Richards, 40, the author of “Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood.”
On Twitter, Richards, who lives in Los Angeles and has 12,900 followers (and two children), recently started FatherhoodFriday to encourage fathers to share photos and stories.
“It’s a very simple concept, but the idea is to show the father’s role in the family is now recognized,” he said.
And when Levs, the author of the forthcoming book “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses — and How We Can Fix It Together,” filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Time Warner, the parent company of his employer, CNN, over its paternity-leave policy, he outlined the case on Tumblr. (As a result of the filing, Time Warner changed its policy, offering biological fathers six weeks of paid leave instead of two.)
But it’s not all Sheryl Sandbergs out there rallying for equality.
“About 90 percent of the posts on Daddit are those posting pictures of their cute kids,” Moskowitz, now the father of two, said. “We tried to ban pictures or say only post pictures here, but that didn’t work. I think it speaks to how much dads want to show off their kids.”