Mobile Internet-based Application to Promote Positive Parenting: Parent-Net

Period of Performance: 04/17/2015 - 10/16/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Effective Human Services, LLC
Springfield, OR 97478
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): There is a strong body of evidence supporting the use of behavioral parenting strategies in dealing with child behavioral problems. Empirically supported behavioral parent training protocols exist (e.g., Barkley, 1997; Eyberg, 2003; Forgatch and Patterson, 2010; Kazdin 2008; WebsterMStratton and Reid 2003) to teach parents how to employ these strategies, but there is also a large amount of misinformation, opinion, and conflicting ideas concurrently being disseminated. The Internet has made the process of getting accurate, best practice information harder rather than less cumbersome because of the great amount and variable quality of parenting information available. A Google search of parent/parenting produces 190,000,000 results, behavioral parenting reduces this is 73,500,000, and empirically validated behavioral parenting still returns 6,330,000 results (search conducted using Google Chrome 07/16/2014). Parents need a resource to receive trust-worthy information in a digestible format that would assist them in being able to use this information to develop behavioral programs for their children. As important as accurate information is implementation integrity. An effective empirically supported behavior plan is faced with numerous barriers to consistent implementation. There are a wide variety of factors that can interfere with the implementation of even the strongest parenting strategies, and both needing timely reminders and tracking the details (Webster-Stratton, 1998) are frequently noted. These barriers, however, are also noted as exactly the kinds of factors that technology is often able to address (Hollon, et al., 2002; NIMH, 2003). In this Phase I application, we propose developing an application ParentNet which will help parents to utilize best-practices in behavioral parenting to create personalized, specific programs for their children. After the behavioral program has been created, ParentNet will track timelines, incentives and other details to assist parents in maintaining the program that they have created. An initial proof of concept mobile/internet version of this program and reminder set will be developed in the Phase I project and tested with a group of parents of children with challenging behaviors. If the Phase I project can meet the benchmarks (a prototype is developed, and parents are able to utilize the interface and report finding it helpful), we foresee moving to develop the full product in Phase II This completed parenting resource would start with the Phase I infrastructure, incorporate feedback from Phase I participants, and add planned additional features (including: building an ability to track behavioral progress across time, additional feedback to parents will be offered with reminders about timelines and incentives earned, and a youth interface will push information to children about timelines, incentives received, and progress toward individual goals). In addition, we would foresee having a stronger empirical test of the ParentNet system as a behavioral parenting strategy by comparing individuals who are randomly selected to receive the application with a control condition in terms of changes in parenting behavior.