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14-11-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2017

Who Uses Online Parenting Support? A Cross-Sectional Survey Exploring Australian Parents’ Internet Use for Parenting

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2017
Sabine Baker, Matthew R. Sanders, Alina Morawska


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.

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