Project summary:

Externalizing disorders, including behaviors such as tantrums, defiance, and aggression, are among the most common and costly disorders of childhood. Behavioral indicators of these disorders often emerge by the third year of life, but current methods of identifying them are often time-intensive and expensive. This pilot study uses wearable technology to sense daily activities such as child hyperactivity and tantrums, caregiver warmth and harshness, or child and caregiver play over time, which can help families and researchers understand more about moment-to-moment interactions and how they might affect child development and child and parental mental health. By recruiting participants from Federally-Qualified Health Centers and Federally-Subsidized Child Care centers, the team is intentionally including lower-income families who have been historically underrepresented in this type of research. The hope is that summaries of daily activity could provide innovative low-burden assessments, allowing interventions to reach more families at risk. Additionally, markers of daily activity can be incorporated into personalized “just-in-time” interventions, where tailored content is delivered when it is most useful. The lessons learned from this research will be incorporated in the broader Whole Communities–Whole Health cohort study with input from potential participants and community members.

Project team:

Kaya de Barbaro (Department of Psychology), Sarah Kate Bearman (College of Education), Edison Tomaz (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Hannah Williamson (College of Natural Sciences)