Despite media changes, family as a communicative figuration “remained quite stable” (Hepp, 2014, p. 156) over time. Through the past seven years of doing research with families (e.g., Ponte, Simões, Batista, Castro & Jorge, 2017; Castro, 2021), I have been witnessing how digital artefacts and the social web became increasingly infiltrated and mutually affecting and affected by families’ (e.g., communication, mediation and interaction practices, construction and displaying of memories, emotions and ties). Thus, my lens is in tune with families in their pluralistic sense – “fluid and subject to change, depending on cultural, social, and historical contexts” (Lemish, 2016, p1). Bearing in mind the latest worldwide socio-technical events and building from the concept of “doing family” (Morgan, 1996) in unpredictable late modernity (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1990), I will discuss aspects of family life clearly intersected by digital media in the past three years regarding i) competencies; ii) relationships; iii) mediation.
Data were collected – respecting sanitarian guidelines (Castro, 2022) – within a longitudinal project (iTec Families) involving families (n=18) living together or apart in Portugal, UK, Africa, Brazil. Their diversity crosses cultural and socio-economic aspects, composition and structure, children’s age, and gender. Contextual factors, like children’s growing up, the enlargement of the family, COVID-19, datafication of life (Mascheroni & Siiback, 2021) (re)shaped (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) the domestication and appropriation (Silverstone & Haddon, 1996) of family’s digital media ecologies in their everyday life. This is the focus of longitudinal research: to understand how parents’ decisions are taken and change across time paying attention to the active role of children following or neutralising those decisions. Analysis of results using thematic and narrative analysis point to changes in the mediatization of families’ daily lives, despite socio-economic or mediation cleavages. As a result, not even one remained untouched by the power of digitalization.