The transition to parenthood poses several challenges to parents of young children in managing and balancing work and family responsibilities. In the past parents have always relied on other family members and neighbors for dealing with these challenges and for receiving social support. Yet, the support that families can receive by the network of peers is becoming more and more important as society evolves and ICT-based services are becoming ubiquitous and increasingly used. Peers, i.e. other parents of young children, can be a valuable source of informational, material and emotional support. Even if parents of young children constitute a large portion of society and have pressing and urgent needs, surprisingly there aren’t many ICT-based services targeted to them, nor a large body of research investigating their needs and designing and evaluating solutions for them. With familink, our aim is to fill this gap.
Since September 2013 familink has been distributed to the 100+ families belonging to the MTL community and in 2014 will be open to the public.
A familink is intended as an opportunity for the free time of families with young children: parents can create and share information about events and places, discuss about them within the community, communicate if they will participate to an event, meet other families during events. The main features of the service are:
- Personalized exploration: familink gives a quick, personalized and contextualized access to relevant
information. In familink contents are
- georeferenced so that users can explore contents according to their position
- categorized according to several contextual information (such as indoor/outdoor location) allowing the user to filter events and places according to the better contextual conditions (e.g. weather)
- tagged with personal relevant data to better fit individual preferences, pattern or background (e.g. the age of the children or the user’s routines).
- familink pushes the serendipity in content discovery by using adaptive multi-dimensional categories with easy access (e.g. it’s raining, what can I do today?)
- Sharing experiences: familink leverages on the active participation of a local community to support the exploration and discovery of opportunities and to promote the discussion on personal experiences. Contents can be inserted and discussed by users that can share their experiences with others by posting pictures and comments related to events and places.
- face-to-face interaction: familink aims at promoting social contact through event discovery and discussion. Location-based mechanisms will be implemented to connect people during events and to support members in coordinating ad hoc encounters.