How parents are using text messages to improve their kids’ brains

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Photo: Baby texts
Text messages like this one aim to help parents give their kids an edge in development.

Kimberly Ralph likes to play games with her 16-month-old son. It's a way to bond with him, but she also knows it helps with his development.

Lately, Ralph has received ideas about games -- and other parenting tips -- through text messages.

The messages are sent by the Denver-based nonprofit Bright by Three and it's program called Bright by Text. It's free and it's designed for children ages 0-3, geared especially towards low-income parents whose kids tend to have more academic challenges when they get to kindergarten.

One of the text messages recommends caregivers play "peek-a-boo" with their kids because the program says it can help children develop trusting relationships.

Ralph says she uses the advice a lot, including one that focuses on a child's motor skills.

"It had you jump with your child and teach them how to jump up and down or jump off things," says Ralph. "And to make it a little more fun, you jump like a frog or a kangaroo or a bunny rabbit."

The program launched in November and sends out about three texts a month, but plans to expand that in the future. About 550 people have signed up so far. Bright By Three plans to begin sending similar texts in Spanish by the end of March.

Ralph says she gets parenting advice other ways, but she's more likely to read texts than anything else.

"I do get email reminders, but the texting program is nice because you miss emails but you don't miss your texts," she says.