Maintaining family ties through new media
Imagine a life in which you have to live away from your children, maybe for several years.
Before the advent of the mobile phone, migrant families could only communicate through occasional letters and very infrequent (and expensive) phone calls. Parents struggled with the difficulty of knowing they weren’t there to watch their children grow up or be part of their daily lives.
However, ground-breaking research about to be published by a University of Leicester expert in media shows how new media are transforming the way parents and children separated by migration can continue to care for one another. In her new book Migration and New Media – Transnational Families and Polymedia Dr Mirca Madianou, with co-author Daniel Miller, reveals how new media has come to be at the heart of family relationships.
Dr Madianou, of our Department of Media and Communication, has talked to both migrant mothers and their left-behind children who keep in touch through new media such as Skype, social networking sites, mobile phones and email, and her study builds up an understanding of how relationships are maintained through new media and how they are changing. A migrant mother can now call and text her left-behind children several times a day, peruse social networking sites and leave the webcam on for 12 hours achieving a sense of co-presence. Whether her children want her to do this is another matter!
However, new media are beginning to transform the whole experience of migration as the promise of constant communication affects decisions relating to migration and settlement in the UK.
Migration and New Media – Transnational Families and Polymedia is published by Routledge in hardback and paperback.