Bernadette Kneidinger

Social Media als digitales Fotoalbum multilokaler Familien. Die Bedeutung Visueller Kommunikation in intergenerationalen Beziehungen

[Social Media as Digital Photo Albums of Multilocal Families. The Significance of Visual Communication in Intergenerational Relationships]

The significance of computer-mediated communication for the maintenance of interpersonal relationships increases, even in the context of family relations. Besides verbal messages, photos and videos have an important function for relationship maintenance. Like no other communication form, pictures can offer a feeling of immediate participation in the lives of others (Van Dijck 2008: 59; Mynatt et al. 2001). This fact is especially important for close ties as for family relations (Bourdieu 1990, Sontag 1973, Haldrup/Larsen 2003). Whereas in former times photos were mainly shared as printed pictures, today many photos are shared online. Especially social network sites, such as ‘Facebook’, can be used as digital photo albums. They offer the opportunity of an immediate photo exchange and an amplification of the addressed audience. The contribution thus analyzes the significance of photos in intergenerational relationships and shows how social media are used as digital family albums. Internet users of different generations are asked in qualitative interviews and an online survey about their usage of computer-mediated communication in intergenerational relationships and how they exchange photos with other family members on social network sites. The results additionally show how different generations use and perceive personal pictures on social network sites and how visual contents provoke intergenerational interactions.