[kids-lib] In the News: Parent Voices: Doubts, then Excitement on Texts to Promote Literacy

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Tue Jul 15 08:39:31 PDT 2014

I just read this article about the results of a program that send early literacy messages via text to parents. There are a lot of good things to think about here that relate to our work with families and literacy.

Parent Voices: Doubts, then Excitement on Texts to Promote Literacy

*         91 percent of intervention group participants... agreed that sending parenting tips via text was a good way to receive parenting information.

*         Many parents fully intend to read to their child, but by the end of the day, the good intentions go out the door with "decision fatigue"-after a day of making hard choices, our stock of self-control is depleted. Even a minor inconvenience seems like too much of a hurdle. A buzzing text message with some easy instruction is just what many parents need.

*         And it's delivered on a device most parents have with them at all times. Yes, that goes for low-income parents as well. According to a Pew Research Center study<http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/>, 84 percent of Americans with an annual household income less than $30,000 have a cell phone of some kind

*         Like many of the Head Start<http://www.edcentral.org/edcyclopedia/head-start/> parents surveyed in a Northwestern University study of the program, [Evans] wasn't convinced that texts are a good way to receive parenting information. Then she was having a bad day and received a text from the Parent University with an encouraging message: "Hey mom & dad, we wanted to take a second to tell u what an awesome job ur doing!" It was exactly what she needed to hear. "That's when I started doing them every day," she explained.

*         Evans' (mom) partner, Brandon Jones (mom's partner), agreed that the texts resulted in more hands-on family activities. Although the text messages went to Evans' phone, Jones would see Evans and Alissa, for example, creating collages or making shapes with pasta, and he would join the fun. Call it a nudge by association.

*         For Evans, those small nudges had a lasting impact. She would reread texts days or even weeks after they were sent. "Even if I didn't take advantage [of the advice] necessarily that day, I went back on the weekends and said, 'We can do this, this, and this,'"

*         "What really stands out to me is how a text said to take the 'Little Red Riding Hood' story and have a real conversation with my son about stranger danger. 'What did she do that you shouldn't do? And how could she have gone about not talking to strangers?'" she said. "I wouldn't have thought to use that book to teach stranger danger."

*         However, the messages she claimed were most helpful concerned self-care and relaxation-for parents.

*         "It doesn't take much," she stated. "It's a small suggestion, and it's free. I didn't have to go buy anything. That's what I really enjoyed."

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

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