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A Web-Based Media Parenting Intervention to Prevent Youth Substance Use

Funding Source

NIDA, R34DA052793

Project Period

7/1/2021 - 5/31/2024

Principal Investigator

Joy Gabrielli, PhD (University of Florida)

Other Project Staff

Lisa A. Marsch, PhD (Co-I), Cathy Stanger, PhD (Co-I)

Project Summary

Youth substance use (SU) is associated with many negative developmental outcomes including morbidity and mortality. Initiation of SU typically occurs during adolescence, and SU behavior often co-occurs with other risk behaviors (e.g., risky sexual behavior). Exposure to SU in the media is a well-documented influence on SU behavior, as it predicts early onset SU and progression to more problematic SU behavior. Media effects, while demonstrated to be consistent, stable, and strong even accounting for other social influences and personality characteristics, have received little attention in preventative SU research; yet youth exposure to media SU is a modifiable environmental risk for youth SU behavior. Parents can mitigate SU risk by limiting media SU exposures and intervening when youth are exposed. Parents report lack of media parenting skills, however, and no media parenting intervention designed specifically to reduce youth risk for SU exists. This project will examine the role of media parenting behaviors to reduce risk for early onset of youth SU. This proposal addresses Objective 2.2 in the NIDA Strategic Plan to “develop and test innovative prevention interventions that target mechanisms underlying risk factors.” This program of research focuses on media depictions of SU, an important social and environmental influence implicated in the development, maintenance, and treatment of SU disorders. Specifically, the aims of this project are to target media-related mechanisms underlying SU initiation and associated risk factors as they relate to youth development. Improved understanding of specific parenting behaviors that contribute to prevention of youth SU, and mechanisms by which parenting behaviors may reduce risk related to media could inform the development of new and more effective interventions. Research aims in this application are designed to progress towards the end goal of developing a scalable, evidence-informed media parenting intervention to reduce youth risk for SU. First, intervention content that follows the T.E.C.H. Parenting framework developed by Gabrielli and Marsch will be refined with two focus groups of approximately 8 parents each (Aim 1). Once intervention content is finalized, using randomized control trial (RCT) design with an attention control comparison group, the T.E.C.H. Parenting intervention will be tested in a sample of 120 parent participants (Aim 2). Innovations include the use of web-based intervention content with supplemental push messaging to participants. Implementation data will be collected as part of the RCT to determine feasibility of web-delivered components of intervention content as well as usability and acceptability of intervention content from participants. This project is highly innovative in the use of technology to support parental engagement and dissemination of intervention. Further, web delivery of content provides an opportunity for parents to practice media parenting skills within the digital environment in a way that is adapted to the needs of the individual family and can be implemented in a range of diverse clinical settings.

Public Health Relevance

Substance use (SU) behavior typically initiates in adolescence, greatly contributes to the global burden of disease, and is causally implicated across a range of negative developmental and health outcomes. Entertainment media commonly depict SU, and youth exposure to media SU is linked to youth initiation and progression of SU behavior. Parenting practices reduce exposure to and may mitigate risk associated with media depictions of SU, thus this research proposal will build upon current understanding of effective media parenting with the end goal of developing and testing a media parenting intervention designed to reduce youth risk for SU.