This RAPID was submitted in response to the NSF Dear Colleague letter related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award is made by the AISL program in the Division of Research on Learning, using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. COVID-19 presents a national threat to the health of children and families, presenting serious implications for the mental and physical health of children. Child development scientists have already warned of increasing stress levels among the U.S. child population, especially those in low-income families of color. In addition, Latino children are disproportionately impoverished, and benefit from culturally relevant information. Parents and caregivers need to be armed with effective science-based strategies to improve child prospects during this global crisis. Harnessing well-established partnership (including with local TV news partners and parent-serving organizations) strengthens the potential for broad impacts on the health and well-being of children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic persists, widely disseminating accurate research-based strategies to support parents and families, with a focus on low-income Latino parents, is crucial to meeting the needs of the nation's most vulnerable during this global crisis. The award addresses this urgent need by producing research-based news videos on child development for distribution on broadcast television stations that reach low income Latino parents. The videos will communicate research-based recommendations regarding COVID-19 in ways that are relatable to Latino parents and lead to positive parenting during this pandemic. A "how to" video will also be produced showing parents how to implement some of the practices. Project partners include Abriendo Puertas, the largest U.S. parenting program serving low-income Latinos, and Ivanhoe Broadcasting.
Research questions include: 1) What information do parents need (and potentially what misinformation they are being exposed to)? 2) What are they sharing? 3) How does this vary geographically? 4) Can researchers detect differences in public engagement in geographic areas where TV stations air news videos as compared to areas that don't? This project will use data and communication science research strategies (e.g. natural language processing from online sites where parents are asking questions and sharing information) to inform the content of the videos and lead to the adoption of featured behaviors. Data from web searches, public Facebook pages, and Twitter posts will be used to gain a window into parents' main questions and concerns including information regarding hygiene, how to talk about the pandemic without frightening their children, or determining veracity of what they hear and see related to the pandemic.
This organic approach can detect concerns that parents may be unlikely to ask doctors or discuss in focus groups. Methodologically, the researchers will accomplish this by natural language analysis of the topics that parents raise; the words and phrases they use to talk about specific content; and any references to external sources of information. Where possible, the researchers will segment this analysis by geography to see if there are geographical differences in information needs and discourse. A research brief will share new knowledge gained with the field on how to respond to national emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, using local TV news and reinforcement of messages across contexts. The findings from this award will provide a knowledge base that can be utilized to better inform responses to national emergencies in the future. By broadly disseminating these findings through a research brief, the project?s innovative research will advance the field of communication science.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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