Media Aware Parent was initially developed as a prototype as part of a successful Phase I SBIR grant from NICHD. The interactivity and content of the web-based program was created with input and feedback from youth and parents, as well as experts in the fields of sexual health promotion, child development, and instructional design.

“We have found that popular media provides numerous “teachable moments” for parents to initiate conversations with their children about sexual health issues and that by talking about relationships in the media it makes for a much more comfortable way to discuss these issues for both parents and children,” notes Dr. Scull.

Media Aware Parent will feature audios of real parents and teens discussing a wide variety of topics related to sexual health. Further, the program will include resources that parents can share with their children to help the children learn about pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, and protection.

An experiment will be conducted to evaluate the impact of the program on increasing parents’ knowledge about sexual health issues. Parents’ feelings of readiness and comfort to initiate conversations on these topics with their teenage children will also be assessed. At the conclusion of this project, iRT will release a commercially-available version of the program for parents to purchase.

“Many parents are anxious about bringing up sex and relationships with their children, yet parents are one of the most important influences on their children. On a regular basis, I hear from parents about how desperate they are for help in having these conversations,” said Dr. Scull. “This program has the potential to equip parents with the information and tools they need to talk to their teens about these health topics in meaningful, effective, health-enhancing conversations.”

About innovation Research & Training

innovation Research & Training (iRT) is a behavioral sciences research company committed to identifying and solving significant real-world problems facing children, families, communities, and organizations. By applying scientific theories, findings, and methods, iRT researchers develop and evaluate behavioral, educational, psychological, social, and community assessment, prevention, and treatment programs and services. Its staff includes experts in basic and applied psychology in the areas of substance abuse prevention and treatment, mentoring, social and emotional learning, mindfulness education, media literacy education, pregnancy prevention and sexual health promotion, violence and bullying prevention, child and adolescent mental health, and adult and juvenile justice programs. For more information about iRT, visit

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44HD082968. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.