By: Emily Hiserodt
Talking with your daughter about sex, periods, or birth control can sometimes be awkward for both moms and dads. Research shows, however, that teens and pre-teens who have open conversations with their parents about their sexual health are less likely to initiate risky sexual behaviors. Luckily there are a lot of resources to help parents start these conversations. A new tool for parents are the many cellphone apps that can help solve this issue of awkward conversations – whether it’s you, the parent, who feels uncomfortable, your daughter, or both. There are many different apps out there that can provide information across multiple areas of sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and their parents. This article is a part of a Parents are TALKING Spotlight series that will profile some of these apps that we think are great resources. Here, we will discuss an app called “Tia” that is geared towards finding the best method of birth control for a young woman.
The Tia app, available to download for free on Apple phones, is a great tool for parents and their daughters because it was designed by young adult women in collaboration with licensed medical professionals in order to provide the most accurate, helpful, and age-appropriate information about choosing a birth control option. The app is set up so that you or your daughter can “chat” with Tia, a compassionate and credible friend who doubles as a medical professional. In fact, the Tia app is named for “aunt” in Spanish because the app is designed to be like that cool aunt who is more knowledgeable than a best friend, but is not as judgmental or worrisome as a mom might be. This makes Tia a great resource for the parent who wants to brush up on their knowledge of different birth control options before chatting with their daughter, the parent who wants to direct their daughter to the app as a trusted guide to peruse on their own, or the parent who wants to sit down and peek through the app alongside their daughter.
We spoke with Carolyn Witte, the creator of the Tia app, about what makes it a unique and trustworthy resource for parents to use when helping their daughters choose the right form of birth control for them. First and foremost, Tia is a highly patient-centered and personalized experience that considers each of the most important aspects for your daughter when she is making the decision to use the best form of birth control for her. Sometimes, the “standard” questions at the doctor’s office don’t always get at what is most important to a young woman when she chooses her first type of birth control method, or wants to switch to a different method. For example, maybe you and your daughter value a birth control option that isn’t hormonal, or one that she doesn’t have to remember to take at the same time every day. Tia can help narrow down the options in an easy-to-digest way.
In addition to helping your daughter select the best form of birth control for her body and her lifestyle, Tia is also there to help her keep track of when to take her birth control, when she gets her periods, and what symptoms she experiences throughout. The app is also there to provide confidential information in order to figure out just what to do if she misses a pill or if the condom breaks. Lastly, Tia is also designed to connect you and your daughter with all of the local doctors and clinics that accept your specific health insurance in the area, making this entire process even easier and stress-free.
There are lots of different tools to make talking to your daughter about birth control options easier, and there is still a lot more to know about how apps can be best used and developed to help prevent unintended pregnancies among adolescents. Apps are not yet a perfect tool, but the Tia app is a great one that we recommend. It’s medically accurate, completely private and confidential, and is a great way to initiate or to continue the conversation with your daughter about choosing the method of birth control that’s right for her in a way that makes that conversation a little less “weird” for both of you.