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Schools turn to texting to help parents keep kids on track

someone texting
Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Text message reminders for parents have led to an increase in reading to toddlers and a rise in Head Start enrollment and school attendance, new research shows.

Why it matters: Despite emerging technologies in early childhood education from Big Tech, researchers say that behavioral targeting via text is the most affordable option for parents — especially low-income ones — to help their children stay on track, USA Today reports.

The big picture: Several studies show that text programs have a "big impact on parental decision-making."

  • A study from a Head Start center in Chicago showed parents were more likely to read to their children if they received text alerts that encouraged them to follow through, per USA Today.
  • In 2018, the Bezos Family Foundation created a weekly text program that gives parents ideas for free, on-the-spot activities to engage the minds of their children.
  • One study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans sent personalized texts to parents on how they could enroll their children in Head Start, which led to more sign-ups compared to families who did not receive the reminders.
  • At the high school level, text reminders to parents led to teens skipping fewer classes, completing more homework and earning higher grades, per a study from Columbia University.

Go deeper: The digital babysitter generation