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The Effect of Signal Expense and Dependability on Family Communication in Rural and Northern Canada

Family communication and technology designed to support it is a widely studied topic. However, most research that focuses on family communication in North America tends to assume high degrees of connectivity and Internet access. We present a study of family communication practices in rural and northern areas of Manitoba, Canada where Internet connectivity is intermittent or severely limited in some communities. Our results show the ways in which individuals stay connected with outside relatives can be hampered by communication infrastructure challenges. In particular, these challenges can dictate how, where and how often conversations with loved ones take place. Our results also indicate that these experiences, many of which are negative, can create lasting impressions that may be difficult to alter as infrastructure improves. This suggests opportunities for designing family communication technologies for outdoor locations with better connectivity, scheduling communication during times with better connectivity, and combating social isolation.

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http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2702123.2702301

Roberta M. Melvin, Andrea Bunt, Erick Odour and Carman Neustaedter (2015). The Effect of Signal Expense and Dependability on Family Communication in Rural and Northern Canada. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2015), 717-726

Authors

Andrea Bunt

Andrea Bunt

Associate Professor

As well as: Erick Odour and Carman Neustaedter