Important Insights for Caregivers
Parent-based Applications (Apps)
Parent-based applications are an emerging trend to help parents and caregivers create stimulating early learning environments at home for their young children. Recent insights show that a digital app-based intervention can increase parents‘ self-efficacy in supporting their child’s development in the first 1,000 days. Researchers need to establish an evidence base for the impacts of parent-based apps. This article explores baby parenting apps and their effectiveness based on the following six elements:
The importance of a baby’s first 1,000 days
Support for early home learning environments
The growing presence and popularity of parent-based apps
Evaluation of a new parent-based app
The use of parent-based apps increased parents‘ self-efficacy
Parent-based apps could be a promising pathway for education
1. The Importance of a Baby’s First 1,000 Days
The first 1,000 days in a child’s life, from conception to two years old, are crucial for their development. It is a time of rapid brain development, with significant differences in outcomes between children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those from more affluent environments. Disadvantaged children experience less exposure to high-quality early learning environments at home.
2. Support for Early Home Learning Environments
High-quality early learning environments at home typically consist of early play and learning opportunities where parents and caregivers interact playfully and verbally with their young children. Research indicates that interventions supporting parents and caregivers in creating stimulating and supportive early learning environments at home significantly improve their knowledge and practices. Digital interventions can provide substantial benefits to parents and caregivers during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life.
3. The Growing Presence and Popularity of Parent-Based Apps
Parent-based apps are primarily designed for use by parents or caregivers to foster offline interactions and learning opportunities with children. The number of downloadable parent apps has increased significantly, with a rapidly growing sector and substantial venture capital investments. However, there is a need for research to assess the impacts of these technological innovations on children’s first 1,000 days.
4. Evaluation of a New Parent-Based App
To address this gap, a new parent-based app was evaluated in a randomized controlled study with parents of children from birth to six months in the UK. The app includes 1,026 age-appropriate activities across eight areas of child development, and our study aimed to determine its impact on parental self-efficacy.
5. The Use of Parent-Based Apps Increased Parents‘ Self-Efficacy
Ninety percent of parents in the treatment group reported feeling “confident” or “very confident” in all standardized questions about parental self-efficacy. The self-efficacy ratings in this group were significantly higher than those of the active control group. Additionally, those in the treatment group who used the parent-based app multiple times per week over four weeks reported greater self-efficacy.
6. Parent-Based Apps Could Be a Promising Pathway for Barrier-Free Parental Education
These new insights demonstrate that digital interventions can provide significant benefits to parents and caregivers during a child’s first 1,000 days. Parent-based apps could offer an accessible solution to enhance parental self-efficacy and improve early learning environments at home. However, further research is needed to establish the evidence base for the effectiveness of parent-based apps, including their impact on different backgrounds.