Participants receive word clouds that reflect their emotions; their insights can help researchers develop new resources for families

NEW YORK, NY – Parents, teachers, students, health workers, patients, and others now have a platform to document their fears, frustrations, and hopes during the COVID-19 crisis: CrisisLogger.org, a new, interactive website from the Child Mind Institute. Participants in this unique research initiative can use the platform as a diary to document their thoughts and feelings for themselves or allow researchers to analyze their stories with the hope of understanding individual struggles and needs during the crisis and informing future resource development and interventions.

The CrisisLogger.org website — a collaboration with PARENTS magazine developed in partnership with researchers at the CRI – Université de Paris, MIT, National Institute of Mental Health, and OpenHumans.org  — offers opportunities to create a video or audio recording or text message and complete an optional questionnaire. Participants can share the recording publicly in its original form or as a transcript, contribute it for scientific research, or make it private.  They can choose to self-identify as being from one of several categories, including teachers, parents, and health workers. The recorded messages are transcribed to text and converted to moving word clouds that capture the theme of the messages.

“This pandemic has transformed our lives in ways we never could have imagined and inspired an incredible range of emotions and feelings in all of us,” said Dr. Michael Milham, vice president of research. “The Child Mind Institute’s MATTER Lab created CrisisLogger to listen and learn from people’s experiences and ultimately find the best ways to provide support to families through the development of new tools and services.”

Julia Edelstein, editor-in-chief of PARENTS, added, “This is such a unique moment in time, and we hope that moms and dads will welcome the chance to describe what it’s been like for their families, and help us all learn from their experiences.”

When participants allow their messages to be used as a part of this unique community research initiative, they will be contributing to a valuable data resource with far-reaching potential. The data will first be de-identified, aggregated and analyzed by Child Mind Institute researchers working with a global network of collaborators. Data contributed to science will be made available to researchers through OpenHumans.org, an innovative platform that allows individuals to donate their data to science, while retaining control over what studies get to use their data, and which do not.

The shared data will provide researchers around the world the opportunity to extract features using text analysis methods, including analysis of word frequency. Additionally, researchers will be able to adopt CrisisLogger for use in their own data collection efforts. Research questions that may be addressed using CrisisLogger include the psychological impact of crises, sheltering-in, and other hardships, as well as questions focused on identifying crisis-related needs to guide future intervention efforts.