Parenting apps review: in search of good quality apps

Anila Virani, Linda Duffett-Leger, Nicole Letourneau


Background: Parenting can be challenging, and in this digital age, first-time parents actively access mobile applications or “apps” to adjust to their new roles. Apps are now technologically-savvy parents’ go-to tool for accessing information, tracking their babies’ development, editing and sharing photos, and much more. While apps have the potential to make parenting easier, the abundance of low-quality apps makes the process of finding a reliable one arduous for parents. Therefore, the objective of this app review paper was to provide a list of quality parenting apps that parents can use.
Methods: The Google Play Store was searched on June 1st, 2018 for available parenting apps using 18 search terms: mum, mom, mommy, mama, mother, father, dad, daddy, papa, newborn, baby, infant, kid, child, children, family, parent, and parenting. The eligible apps (n=16) were evaluated on engagement, functionality, aesthetics, and information domains using Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS).
Results: The authors identified 4,300 free apps on the initial search, of which n=16 apps were included in the review. All 16 apps were freely available to the public on Google Play Store. Most apps (n=13) were also available on the iOS platform. All eligible apps had a privacy policy, and half of the apps contained advertisements. Most apps (n=12) were updated within the last year and received 4.5 or above ratings from users. Babybrains app, developed by a neuroscientist, had the lowest number of downloads (one thousand) whereas, BabyCenter, a commercial app, had the highest number of downloads (ten million). A majority of apps (n=11) received MARS scores between 4.2 and 4.4/5, with four apps received highest MARS score of 4.5/5, and one app received the lowest MARS rating of 4/5.
Conclusions: Apps play an increasingly important role in supporting new parents in their first year of parenthood due to convenience and ease of accessibility. Health care professionals are in an ideal position to support technologically savvy parents in locating good quality apps; therefore, they should support the evaluation of existing parenting apps to ensure that the parents are presented with the up to date and best options.