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New Book: Digital Everyday Connects Generations

Everyday family life gets digitalized, although differently and at a different pace. The digitalization of family values in different countries is defined by the non-simultaneous introduction of technologies and different family and residential arrangements.

All the more families, and already three successive generations, daily use digital media as well as new communications media. Especially the fact that grandparents have in many different ways embraced modern technology, has taken entire families into the Digital Age.

Sakari Taipale from University of Jyväskylä has written a book Intergenerational Connections in Digital Families. The book illustrates how everyday family life gets digitalized in three European countries. It looks into the relationships between different generations from the technology use perspective in Finland, Italy and Slovenia.

“In Finland, everyday family communication is largely based on short text messages and phone calls, which maintain a sense of togetherness when face-to-face meetings are scarce”, Taipale says. “Messaging has in recent years, both in Italy and Finland, expanded to WhatsApp and Facebook, which enables communication between several family members at the same time”.

In Slovenia, family communities are more compact and distances are shorter than in Finland or Italy. In Slovenian families, several generations typically live close to each other, usually on the same plot or in the same house. In general, distances are short.

”In Slovenia, family members help each other more regularly in issues related to the use gadgets and applications as well as technological acquisitions because they live closer to each other. Instead, the need for families to communicate digitally is clearly more scarce than in Finland because it can be done face to face”, Taipale points out.

An older family member is not there just to be helped

Taipale’s book breaks down the myth according to which only older members of the family need help in digital issues.

“In all three countries, especially the youngest family members emphasized how their parents had guided them to use smart phones or computers”, Taipale says. “It was also considered natural that young people help their parents when they need help in technology use”.

Digital housekeeping, such as the acquisition of devices, installing applications as well as maintenance duties, has quickly developed into a defining factor regarding family time management. Taking care of personal gadgets and the digitalization of home takes time. Therefore, sharing digital housekeeping tasks must also be agreed upon.

“It’s a question of help and caring relationships within a family, not just technology”, Taipale states.

The recently published book encapsulates the essential results of the Academy of Finland funded project, “Intergenerational Relations in Broadband Societies”, covering the period 2013–2018.

Further information:

Sakari Taipale, D.Soc.Sc., Docent
Research Group Director
Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care
Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy
+358 400 728 852