Supporting communication between grandparents and grandchildren through tangible storytelling systems

Torben Wallbaum, Andrii Matviienko, Swamy Ananthanarayan, Thomas Olsson, Wilko Heuten, Susanne C.J. Boll

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Grandparents and grandchildren that live apart often rely on communication technologies, such as messengers, video conferencing, and phone calls for maintaining relationships. While some of these systems are challenging for grandparents, others are less engaging for children. To facilitate communication, we developed StoryBox, a tangible device that allows sharing photos, tangible artifacts, and audio recordings of everyday life. We conducted a preliminary study with two families to identify design issues, and further refine the prototype. Subsequently, we conducted a field study with four families for up to four weeks to better understand real-world use and examine inter-generational connectedness. We found that StoryBox was accessible, simple, and helped bridge the technological gap between grandparents and grandchildren. Children communicated asynchronously in a playful and idiosyncratic manner, and grandparents shared past family memories. We provide insights on how to ease communication between different generations, engage them in sharing activities, and strengthen family relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsAnna Cox, Mark Perry
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356206, 9781450356213
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2018 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 21 Apr 201826 Apr 2018
Conference number: 36th (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2018
Abbreviated titleCHI 2018
Internet address


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents
  • Interaction design
  • Messaging
  • Storytelling

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