ATHENS, Ohio -- Studies involving an interactive CD-ROM that offers instruction on parenting skills suggest the three-hour program can help reduce the frequency and severity of children's behavioral problems, according to an Ohio University psychologist who presented the findings at a recent conference in Washington, D.C.
The CD-ROM, Parenting Wisely, offers nine video dramas depicting common family problems, such as poor school performance and sibling rivalry. The program offers a choice of possible resolutions and potential outcomes for each. Designed for people of varying computer skills, the software requires user participation, which may be one reason for its apparent success.
"There's been a lot of research that suggests interactive computer technology promotes faster learning," says Donald Gordon, professor of psychology at Ohio University and creator of Parenting Wisely. "The key seems to be the interactive process. People have to take an active role in the learning process. They spend more time with it because it's so interesting."
Gordon presented research on the program's effectiveness July 11 at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education.
For one study, researchers recruited 72 parents whose children had been involved with the juvenile courts or children services agencies in Athens, Hocking and Washington counties in Ohio. Parents received either the parenting CD-ROM or were assigned to a control group.
Prior to their participation, parents completed several questionnaires, including the Eyeberg Child Behavior Inventory, a tool widely used by researchers to measure behavioral disorders in children. In follow-up surveys at one, three and six months after treatment, parents assigned to the CD-ROM group reported more than 60 percent fewer behavioral problems with their children while parents in the control group reported no change.