The revolution in contemporary digital media has altered patterns of family interaction in ways largely unknown. In this chapter, theories of socialization in the context of the family and family interaction are interpreted and revised in light of the digitalization of the home. The family is a special and at the same time fundamental locus of social interaction, not the least because the child is born into the existing social network of his or her family members. During their early years, children undergo a transformation from dependency to autonomous, functioning agents in their social network. Families are said to be the cradle of language, the original site of everyday discourse and a touchstone for talk in other contexts (Kendall, 2007). Nevertheless, the naturally occurring, face-to-face interactions between family members have remained largely unexplored for many reasons. This chapter describes and analyses the increase in the complexity of family communication and the challenges that the invasion of new media present for the socialization of the child at home.
Anja Riitta Lahikainen
Anja Riitta Lahikainen and Ilkka Arminen
The role of media in children’s socialization depends on many of the intertwined decision-making factors of parents and children. In this study, families appear to form two groups: the gourmets, which feature the parents regulating their children’s media use by arranging other joint activities with children, and the gourmands, which feature parents who are permissive and encourage children’s technology use and regulate it only loosely. Generally, the authors observe that the regulation of children’s media usage becomes more difficult when children get older. Most conflicts between parents and children were related to the children’s computer/media use and associated disobedience. These conflicts are also evidence of the value of the family, and its ability to resist outside forces. In addition, new opportunities have been opened up thanks to mobile media, since family interaction, both facially and from a distance, is no longer limited to the home. Media and technologies intensify social life, adding new negotiations to family life, but do not threaten its centrality.
Anja Riitta Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo
The introductory chapter outlines the contents of the volume. The first part of the book maps contemporary family life and child socialization by providing new methodological, theoretical and time-use reflections on media use and media-related child–parent interaction. In addition, it discusses conversation analysis as a method for depicting the complexity of family interaction. This first part utilizes time-use surveys as well as recent theoretical and methodological discussions. The second part of the book reaches into the private zone of family interaction, and provides the reader with detailed interactional analyses of everyday life with media devices. Detailed case studies of various forms of media-related family interaction contribute to understanding new forms of family time, and conflict situations.