The middle-school years mark a time of rapid change for pre-teens and teens, as well as for their parents. As adolescents seek greater independence, it can be challenging for their parents to stay connected with them to provide important guidance in their lives.
Penn State researchers, with funding from the Mental Research Institute, are developing a smartphone app to promote positive, engaged family relationships that promote healthy development for adolescents.
“We hope to smooth the transitions that accompany adolescence, giving long-term benefits to both parents and their children.”
– Principal Investigator Greg Fosco
The app will guide families through choosing activities that they can enjoy together, establishing healthy routines and practices for monitoring adolescents’ behavior, and giving positive feedback to reinforce behaviors. These practices can reduce adolescents’ risk of depression, problem behavior, substance use, and academic difficulties. The app will also give parents the choice of establishing routines for morning, homework, or bedtime.
The project team will recruit 200 families to test the app and provide feedback. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of the app in promoting positive family relationships.
“Our goal is to reach families who may benefit from engaging with an app that fits into their busy lives,” says principal investigator Greg Fosco.