The Big Meaning of Small Messages
Here, instant messaging as a mode of everyday communication in digital families is taken up for examination. We look, in particular, into the qualities that make WhatsApp an attractive communication tool for extended families: it allows both one-to-one and one-to-many interactions and provides multiple modalities for intergenerational family communication (voice, text, photos and videos). Empirical evidence and qualitative data collected in Finland and Italy in 2014–2015 are drawn upon and analysed in advancing the argument that the success story of WhatsApp in the family context is related to way it enables reaching the whole family at once and promotes ‘phatic communion’ via small messages.
KeywordsExtended family Instant messaging Intergenerational relationships One-to-many communication Phatic communion WhatsApp
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