Designing technology to empower children to communicate with non-residential parents

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7 Scopus citations


This paper considers the role of technology in supporting parent-child communication in divorced families. Through formative interviews, we identified specific challenges to engaging the child in remote communication and managing the tension inherent in the communication practices of divorced households. To address some of these challenges, we designed the ShareTable system, a synchronous communication appliance that combines easy-to-use videochat with a shared projector-camera tabletop surface. We observed the use of this system in the field through a multi-case design case study where each case consisted of two divorced households and the ShareTable as a mediating technology. The two families had very different experiences with the system, which we interpret through the lens of empowerment theory. This paper makes two major contributions to Child-Computer Interaction. First, it contributes a presentation of the formative interviews and field deployment of the ShareTable focused specifically on the role and perspective of the child. Second, it contributes a discussion of empowerment theory as a potential interpretive lens for Child-Computer Interaction and applies it to understanding the findings and providing implications for design in the context of communication technologies for children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work would not have been impossible without the thoughtful guidance of my advisor and my thesis committee members: Gregory Abowd, Amy Bruckman, Ellen Yi-Luen Do, Panos Markopoulos, and Elizabeth Mynatt. Secondly, this work would not have happened without the wonderful participants who have volunteered their time in order to help me answer my questions about separated families. Third, funding from a number of organizations has supported my work throughout the Ph.D. process: AT&T Graduate Fellowship , IBM Graduate Fellowship , Nokia University Award , and a Kynamatrix Grant . Fourth, a number of fellow students helped throughout this process with the logistics of carrying out these investigations: Fatima Boujarwah, Yee Chieh Chew, Stephen Cuzzort, Brian Di Rito, Yi Han, Kurt Luther, Yevgeniy Medynskiy, Sanika Mokashi, Hendrik Muller, David Quigley, Duane Rollins, Hina Shah, Caleb Southern, Jay Summet, and Anthony Tang.


  • Divorce
  • Empowerment theory
  • Evaluation
  • Family communication
  • Field deployment
  • Play


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