The Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Family Communication
Dialogues with Grandmothers from Romania
ICTs are increasingly prevalent across the life course. The uptake of ICTs, however, varies considerably across countries and across different age groups. Studies regarding grandparents' use of web-based services to communicate with family members (see for example Ivan/Hebblethwaite 2016) show that grandmothers are more engaged in communicating actions, although they are less technologically skilled compared to grandfathers. In the current study we approach grandmothers' use of ICTs in family communication from a critical and relational perspective. The current study focused on grandmothers, as previous research (i.e. Burke/Adamic/Marciniak 2013) has indicated that they play a central role in communication actions and family bonding. Using a focus group methodology, we engaged grandmothers from Bucharest, Romania (age 65 and older) in conversations about their everyday uses and the role of ICTs in family communication. We investigate: what media they engage with; what media they do not engage with; how they engage with these media in family interactions, particularly when communicating with children and grandchildren and the relationship between ICT use and social participation in their everyday lives. This work contributes to the current literature on how older adults use (or do not use) ICTs in their everyday lives by focusing on a range of media, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), online communities, blogs, and other communication platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp and email. In addition, the chapter sheds light on the family practices in the use of ICTs in Eastern European countries – largely affected by migration and with increased numbers of elderly people left behind.