Mediating Asymmetries in Family Communication: Supporting the eInclusion of Older Adults

  • Francisco J. Gutierrez
  • Sergio F. Ochoa
  • Julita Vassileva
Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-20678-3_42

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9175)
Cite this paper as:
Gutierrez F.J., Ochoa S.F., Vassileva J. (2015) Mediating Asymmetries in Family Communication: Supporting the eInclusion of Older Adults. In: Antona M., Stephanidis C. (eds) Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Access to Today's Technologies. UAHCI 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9175. Springer, Cham


Background: The rise of mobile Web-based technologies has diversified the mechanisms used by people to socialize, which results in issues in family communication. Among these concerns, the reluctance of older adults to use digital media may cause them social isolation, leading to negative effects in their physical and mental health.

Objective: This paper aims to formalize a model to mediate asymmetries in cross-generational communication and support the eInclusion of older adults.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews to the members of 20 cross-generational families. Following the grounded theory approach, we identified emerging themes regarding asymmetries in family communication practices when older adults are involved. We then derived and formalized computer-based mediation strategies using a model-driven engineering approach.

Results: We identified three main sources of asymmetries: (1) implicit family agreements in terms of social interaction, (2) capability and preferences for using particular media, and (3) unbalanced socio-affective coupling between the involved parties. The proposed model addresses these asymmetries and provides strategies to coordinate the communication effort of family members with their elders.

Conclusions: By using the proposed model, designers of software that supports family communities can conceive effective mechanisms to coordinate and mediate social communication among cross-generational family members through digital means. This allows the elderly to show a better reaction to digital media, thus facilitating their acceptance and appropriation of information technologies.


Family communication Older adults Asymmetry Model Mediation Social and digital inclusion 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco J. Gutierrez
    • 1
  • Sergio F. Ochoa
    • 1
  • Julita Vassileva
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Computer Science DepartmentUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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