November 30, 2022, Durham, NC – innovation Research & Training (iRT) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to develop and evaluate a self-paced, interactive online program designed to educate parents about tween development and help them have high-quality conversations with their tweens about puberty, body-image, relationships, sexuality, and media use.

Preadolescence is an integral time in development for children to form lifelong beliefs about appearance, gender roles, relationships, and sex. Children are more susceptible to eating disorders, dating violence perpetration, aggressive behavior, and decreased self-confidence at the onset of puberty. However, there are limited resources available to parents to help them enhance their communication with their children about these topics. Additionally, media messages are highly influential on tweens’ formation of these beliefs, but few resources are available to educate parents about mediation of preadolescent media consumption.

Researchers at iRT have previously developed Media Aware Parent, a parent-focused resource which has shown positive effects on parent-teen communication quality about topics such as sexual health and media. Principal Investigator Dr. Tracy Scull, joined by Co-Investigators Dr. Christina Dodson and Dr. Reina Evans-Paulson, aims to fill the gap in resources for parents of tweens and help them protect their children against negative health outcomes associated with puberty through purposeful communication. This program will be developed for parents of children aged 9-12 to provide practice in navigating conversations with their tween, tips for mediating their child’s media consumption, and information about tween health.

During program development, iRT will receive input from a diverse Advisory Panel of parents, tweens, and experts in the field of preadolescent development to ensure that the needs of target users and organizations are met.