Ambient Awareness to Strengthen the Family Social Network of Older Adults
Social networking sites (SNSs) provide ambient awareness of the interests and activities of friends and relatives helping them sustain and strengthen their social ties. Older adults who are not adopting SNSs might however feel like outsiders within their own families who increasingly rely on these services to socialize. Previous research has shown that situated displays can provide appropriate interfaces for older adults to use digital services. In this paper we explore how situated displays can intuitively provide ambient awareness to strengthen the family social network of older adults. We designed and developed Tlatoque, a situated display, to seamlessly integrate older adults into the SNS used by their relatives. The results of a 21-week deployment study of an initial version of Tlatoque in one extended family showed that the older adult became more conscious of relatives’ activities, which also enriched in-person encounters. However, relatives expected the older adult to reply to their posts in the SNS and Tlatoque lacked mechanisms for the older adult to provide feedback. We re-designed Tlatoque to incorporate means for enabling the older adult to share information back to the SNS. We conducted a second 21-week deployment study with another extended family to evaluate the use of this new version of the system. Our results indicate that the second design was successful in providing ambient awareness to the older adult as well as to her relatives. We conclude that situated displays that provide SNS services can assist the integration of older adults to their social network and contribute to enhance asymmetric relations between the older adult and younger relatives.