Computing and Information Systems - Theses

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    Understanding the role of technology in supporting parent–child reunion
    Parent–child reunion is one of the most prevalent yet less explored areas of family life. During reunions, parents and children can strengthen their bonds and reaffirm their ties. Earlier works on Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) have highlighted the value of digital technologies in supporting the parent–child relationship during physical separation or collocation, but little work has focused on parent–child reunion. This thesis investigates the role of digital technology in supporting a specific type of parent– child reunion: a reunion following separation for work-related reasons that has a pre-, upon and post-phase. This investigation was conducted with the participation of three types of families: academic, defence and mining. This thesis presents three studies that examined the role of digital technologies in supporting parent–child reunion. The first study focused on technological shortcomings of current technology use in parent–child reunion. This study found that current technologies lack certain elements of support during the anticipation to reunite in prereunion, the initial engagement upon reunion and the sharing of experiences in postreunion. The second study identified the interactional qualities of digital technologies that aim to support parent–child reunion that led to the design of Rendezvous—the first reunion-oriented artefact. The insights from this study emphasised the importance of stimulating co-creation in pre-reunion, motivating co-engagement upon reunion and inspiring co-sharing in post-reunion. The third study evaluated Rendezvous through its field deployment with the participation of academic and mining families. The findings demonstrated the significance of Rendezvous in supporting parent–child reunion by augmenting the anticipation to reunite in pre-reunion, heightening the initial engagement upon reunion and strengthening the experience of sharing in post-reunion. The knowledge generated by this thesis has three main contributions. First, it uncovers the necessity for digital technologies to support parent–child reunion by focusing on the anticipation in pre-reunion, the engagement upon reunion and the sharing of experiences in post-reunion. Second, the thesis calls attention to the merit of asynchronous technologies in supporting parent–child reunion. Finally, it expands the current knowledge by highlighting materiality and temporality as key design considerations for reunion-oriented technologies.