A text messaging intervention was found to improve parental competence among parents of preteens and teenagers, according to an article published in JAMA Network Open.

In the randomized controlled trial, a team of investigators from Auckland, New Zealand, assessed MyTeen, an intervention in which parents receive text messages with the objective of improving satisfaction, ability, and confidence in handling parenting problems. For this study, the text messages were adapted from evidence-based parenting guidelines, limited to 160 characters, and sent once daily over a 4-week period. 

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The study comprised 221 parents and caregivers of youth aged 10 to 15 years who were randomly assigned to receive the text-message intervention (n=109) or usual care (n=112), which consisted of either no intervention or alternative services if they chose. Parental competence was assessed using the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, which is a Likert-style questionnaire that assesses parental satisfaction and efficacy.

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At the end of the 1-month study period, parents in the intervention group reported a higher level of parental competence than those in the control group (estimated mean difference, 3.33 points; 95% CI, 1.37-5.29 points; P =.002). Of the participants in the intervention group, 90.3% rated the program as somewhat to very useful, and almost all (98.1%) indicated that text messages were a good way to deliver information. However, more than half (57.7%) thought the intervention was too short.

“[MyTeen] can be widely deployed as an early intervention to increase parental competence, provide mental health and help-seeking knowledge, reduce parental stress, and improve parent-adolescent communication,” the investigators wrote. “Offering the program universally minimizes the stigma associated with accessing parenting support.”


Chu JTW, Wadham A, Jiang Y, et al. Effect of MyTeen SMS-based mobile intervention for parents of adolescents: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(9):e1911120. 

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor