When Behavioral Barriers are Too High or Low: How Timing Matters for Parenting Interventions

38 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kalena E. Cortes

Kalena E. Cortes

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service; National Bureau of Economic Research

Hans Fricke

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research; Stanford University

Susanna Loeb

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David S. Song

Stanford University - School of Education

Benjamin York

ParentPowered Technologies

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

The time children spend with their parents affects their development. Parenting programs can help parents use that time more effectively. Text-messaged-based parenting curricula have proven an effective means of supporting positive parenting practices by providing easy and fun activities that reduce informational and behavioral barriers. These programs may be more effective if delivered during times when parents are particularly in need of support, such as after work, or, alternatively when parents have more time to interact with their child, such as on a day off of work. This study compares the effects of an early childhood text-messaging program sent during the weekend to the same program sent on weekdays. We find that sending the text messages on the weekend is, on average, more beneficial to children's literacy and math development. This effect is particularly strong for initially lower achieving children, while the weekday texts show some benefits for higher achieving children on higher order skills. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the parents of lower achieving students, on average, face such high barriers during weekdays that supports are not enough to overcome these barriers, while for parents of higher achieving students, weekday texts are more effective because weekdays are more challenging, but not so difficult as to be untenable for positive parenting. In sum, the findings suggest that parenting support works best when parents have time, attention, and need.

Keywords: text messaging, parental engagement, literacy and reading skills, math skills, and parent-child activities

JEL Classification: I21, I24, J18

Suggested Citation

Cortes, Kalena and Fricke, Hans and Loeb, Susanna and Song, David S. and York, Benjamin, When Behavioral Barriers are Too High or Low: How Timing Matters for Parenting Interventions. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12416, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3408314

Kalena Cortes (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service ( email )

TAMU 4220
1004 George Bush Dr West
College Station, TX 77843
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bush.tamu.edu/faculty/kcortes/

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://users.nber.org/~cortesk/

Hans Fricke

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research ( email )

Varnbüelstr. 14
St.Gallen, CH-9000
Switzerland

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Susanna Loeb

Stanford University ( email )

School of Education 402P CERAS, 520 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-725-4262 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David S. Song

Stanford University - School of Education ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-3096
United States

Benjamin York

ParentPowered Technologies ( email )

United States

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