Who Uses Online Parenting Support? A Cross-Sectional Survey Exploring Australian Parents’ Internet Use for Parenting
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The need for better access to evidence-based parenting interventions is widely recognized, as few families actually participate in parenting programs. A public health approach that includes the delivery of parenting information via the Internet could increase the reach of such interventions dramatically. However, there are concerns that web-based information is not accessible by families that face the greatest barriers to accessing “traditional” face-to-face parenting support, and therefore could benefit most from online approaches. This study used a cross-sectional survey of 459 Australian parents of 2–12 year olds to investigate parents’ use of the Internet to access parenting information, and the extent to which this information is useful for parents from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. Results indicate that the majority of parents use parenting websites (65 %) and social media (45 %) for parenting information. Users of parenting websites tended to be parents of younger children. Younger age of the child was also associated with using social media, as was younger parental age, being female, not working and spending more hours online. Parents rated a range of modalities as useful for receiving parenting information, particularly seminars and individually tailored programs. Self-directed web-based programs were endorsed by 61 % of respondents. Higher-risk parents were as likely or more likely to endorse web-based information sources as lower-risk parents. As there was almost equal access to online parenting information among families from different backgrounds, we conclude that the Internet provides an exciting opportunity for delivering evidence-based parenting support to a broad range of parents, including higher-risk families.
KeywordsParenting Internet Social media Digital divide At-risk parents
We gratefully acknowledge the funding of this trial by the Australian Research Council (DP120101404).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of Interest
The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is owned by The University of Queensland. The University through its main technology transfer company, UniQuest Pty Ltd, has licensed Triple P International (TPI) Pty Ltd to publish and disseminate the program worldwide. Royalties stemming from published Triple P resources are distributed to the Parenting and Family Support Centre; School of Psychology; Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences; and contributory authors. Matthew Sanders and Alina Morawska are authors on various Triple P resources. TPI is a private company and no author has any share or ownership in it. TPI engages the services of Professor Matthew Sanders as a consultant to ensure program integrity is maintained. Sabine Baker is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Parenting and Family Support Centre.
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