Technology-Assisted Parenting Interventions for Families Experiencing Social Disadvantage: a Meta-Analysis
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Technology-assisted interventions have been identified as a means to increase accessibility and enhance engagement of parenting programs. The current meta-analytic review examines the effectiveness of these interventions in families experiencing social disadvantage. A literature search was conducted spanning March 2007-June 2019. Nine studies met inclusion criteria (total of 864 participants) which included an evaluation of a parenting intervention for families with at least one of the following demographic challenges, low socioeconomic status, single parenthood, and/or young parenthood. Interventions (or a component of the intervention) were delivered by computer, cell phone, smartphone, and/or tablet. Data were organized into three categories: parental psychological well-being (e.g., self-esteem, social support), parenting (e.g., observed or self-reported parenting behavior), and child behavior (e.g., disruptive behavior). Effect sizes (Hedges' g) were calculated and moderators (i.e., contact with an interventionist, intervention length, publication year, % female parents, mean parent age, parental education, % minority, and child age) were examined through Q-statistics and meta-regression, as appropriate. Intervention showed a near-significant impact on parental psychological well-being (g = .35, p = .051). Furthermore, interventions that did not include direct contact with an interventionist showed no evidence of effectiveness (g = - .02); interventions that incorporated contact were significantly more effective (g = .68). In addition, intervention length moderated intervention effectiveness; shorter interventions yielded greater improvements in well-being, compared with longer interventions. Interventions were also associated with significant improvements in parenting (g = .38) and child behavior (g = .39). These findings provide support for the use of technology-assisted parenting interventions in populations experiencing social disadvantage.