ParentApp for Teens in Tanzania

About this project

copy of gpi brand maps tanzania yellow
  January 2022 - December 2024
Principal Investigators Dr Joyce Wamoyi (National Institute of Medical Research, Tanzania), Professor Lucie Cluver (University of Oxford, University of Cape Town)
Research Team Lauren Baerecke (University of Cape Town), Dr Abigail Ornellas (University of Cape Town), Dr David Stern (IDEMS), Dr Mwita Wambura, Dr Onduru Gervas (National Institute for Medical Research), Jonathan Klapwijk (University of Oxford), Roselinde Janowski (University of Oxford)
Partners National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR),Tanzania; Tanzania Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children; Tanzania Ministry of Education; Pact Tanzania; USAID; UNICEF Tanzania, WHO, CWBSA, IDEMS, INNODEMS, Government of Tanzania, ICS, University of Cape Town, University of Oxford, GISP, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children


The study is a two-arm pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial of ParentApp for Teens - an offline-first, open-source mobile app version of the in-person Parenting for Lifelong Health for Teens parenting programme. It aims to compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hybrid digital delivery of ParentApp with WhatsApp group support, with an attention-control group who will receive a WASH app. The study will be conducted amongst low-income families with adolescent children aged 10 - 17 years in Tanzania.


There is emerging evidence that in-person playful parenting programmes can successfully be adapted for digital delivery. Despite regional trends showing substantial year-on-year growth in smartphone penetration and reduced data costs over the next decade in low- and middle-income countries such as Tanzania, there is limited evidence on delivery and effectiveness in these settings. The trial  builds on earlier phases of research including (1) feasibility and acceptability piloting of ParentApp for Teens in South Africa and Tanzania and (2) an optimisation trial conducted in Tanzania to improve engagement, retention and delivery mechanisms.


1. Test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ParentApp on improving positive parenting, reducing adolescent sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

2. Test delivery of ParentApp at scale through local implementing partners.

3. Explore pathways of impact through mediation models and qualitative investigation.

4. Co-develop a national strategy to scale in-person, remote, digital, and hybrid parenting support.

Study Setting

The study will be conducted in two regions, Mwanza and Shinyanga, in Tanzania. These regions border each other and include urban, peri-urban, and rural areas. Swahili is widely spoken in both regions.

Study Significance and Impact

This study is the first known randomised controlled trial of a hybrid-digital parenting app, that is being designed and rigorously tested in low-resource settings. At this moment of unprecedented global recognition of the need for effective and scalable parenting programmes to prevent sexual, physical, and emotional violence against children and bolster families against hardships, the results of the study will generate an evidence-base to inform the scale-up of the intervention in Tanzania and other low-and-middle countries. 

Findings from this and other GPI studies testing digital parenting programmes will explore the usefulness of parenting programmes as a learning tool, by using learning through play and behavioural mechanisms aimed at developing positive parenting skills for holistic development. Findings will help parents and practitioners to understand the beliefs, perceptions, and practices of learning through play in the Global South, sharing contextual learning through play tools that allow children and adolescents to build a deeper understanding of their relationships and the world around them.