Smart Communication: The situated practices of mobile technology and lifelong digital literacies

Project description

The massive spread of digital and mobile technologies has generated an interdisciplinary body of research interested, among others, in their impact on communicative conduct. The ubiquity of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets in our everyday activities is regarded as enhancing (remote) social networks and the exchange of knowledge, but also as hampering face-to-face communication and possibly leading to the exclusion of elderly persons and “digital deniers”. However, little is known about mundane digital skills in different age groups, as past research mainly considered reported practices (rather than situated practices), task-driven or experimental device uses (rather than unconstrained ones), or educational contexts (rather than everyday settings). Moreover, the belief that the younger generation handles these devices more skilfully and naturally is generally not questioned and has not yet been investigated in detail.

The Smart Communication-project therefore suggests a micro-analytic approach to the situated use of mobile technologies by younger and older adults in everyday settings. Using the qualitative method of multimodal conversation analysis, the project studies how these technologies are used, manipulated and talked about in everyday face-to-face encounters. The project focuses on two different stages of digital socialization: deep digital socialization in young adults and late digital socialization in elderly adults. Based on video recorded social encounters, the project investigates, among others, the following issues:

  • How and when do younger and elderly participants engage with mobile technologies?
  • How can we define and describe mundane digital skills related to everyday uses of mobile devices?
  • Can a digital age divide be shown to exist?

The Smart Communication-project aims to offer new insights into the praxeological features of everyday technology use and to reflect upon the possible changes in society and the social skills brought about by new communication technologies.

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Research groups

  • COACT (Complexity of (inter)action and multimodal participation)


Florence Oloff

Florence Oloff

Assistant Professor
Iuliia Avgustis

Iuliia Avgustis

Doctoral Researcher

Joonas Råman

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Samira Ibnelkaid

Samira Ibnelkaïd

Postdoctoral Researcher