The massive spread of digital and mobile technologies has generated an interdisciplinary body of research interested in their impact on communicative conduct. The ubiquity of devices such as smartphones or tablets is regarded as enhancing (remote) social networks and knowledge exchange, but also as hampering face-to-face communication and leading to the exclusion of the elderly and “digital deniers”. However, little is known about mundane digital skills in different age groups, as past research considered mainly reported practices (rather than situated practices) and task-driven or experimental device uses (rather than unconstrained ones). Moreover, the belief that the younger generation handles these devices more skilfully has not yet been questioned and investigated in detail. The Smart Communication project (full title: “Smart Communication: The situated practices of mobile technology and digital literacies”) therefore suggests a micro-analytic approach to the situated use of mobile technologies by younger and older adults in different communication settings. It is funded by the Academy of Finland (2019-2023, project number: 323848) and the Eudaimonia Institute of the University of Oulu (“Emerging Project“, 2018-2022).
How and when do younger and elderly participants engage and cope with mobile devices within their social encounters? How can we describe mundane digital skills related to everyday uses of mobile devices? Do mobile technologies transform our social and linguistic routines, both within peer interactions and across the lifespan?
Rooted in a multimodal and micro-analytic approach to social interaction, the project focuses on two different stages of digital socialisation: deep digital socialisation in young adults and late digital socialisation in elderly adults, integrating both a cross-generational and a cross-linguistic approach (Finnish, French, German, Russian).
Our research is based on empirical data, mainly video recordings of everyday face-to-face or remote encounters, dynamic screen captures of the mobile devices, and transcripts of talk and embodied conduct. The project aims to offer new insights into the praxeological features of everyday technology use.
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