The Efficacy of Internet-Based Parenting Programs for Children and Adolescents with Behavior Problems: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials

Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2020 Dec;23(4):510-528. doi: 10.1007/s10567-020-00326-0. Epub 2020 Sep 8.


Online parenting programs can increase the accessibility of mental health services. This meta-analysis investigated the effectiveness of online parenting interventions in reducing children and adolescents behavior problems (primary outcome) and improving parenting behavior, parent distress, and parenting efficacy (secondary outcomes). A systematic search was conducted on PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, SCOPUS, and ProQuest on June 28th, 2019. The meta-analysis was prior registered in PROSPERO. In total, 2160 records were identified and 15 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) were included (N = 1668) in the systematic review and meta-analysis. The quality of each study was assessed by two independent evaluators. When compared to waitlist, online parenting interventions are effective in reducing behavior problems with a small effect size (Hedges's g = 0.40). No significant differences were found between online and classical delivered parenting interventions in reducing behavior problems (g = - 0.07). Compared to waitlist, the interventions are effective in improving parenting behavior (g = 0.34), parent distress (g = 0.30), and parenting efficacy (g = 0.41). The results appear to be stable at follow-up measures. The factors responsible for the effectiveness of the interventions were explored through moderation analyses. Online parenting interventions are promising for improving both behavior problems and parent outcomes. Future studies should focus on methods to increase their effectiveness and measure the outcomes more objectively.

Keywords: Behavior problems; Online parenting; Parent distress; Parenting behavior; Parenting efficacy; RCTs.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Education, Distance / methods
  • Humans
  • Parenting* / psychology
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic