The household vignettes: Harrison household

April 2015, Melbourne, by Jolynna Sinanan

Mike works in a high stress environment as a prison officer. Throughout his day, he also worries about his wife Dina who is retired and largely stays at home because of her arthritis. He calls her during his lunch break and before he leaves work to first, check that she is ok and second to see if he can do or get anything for her on the way home. The phone call at the end of the day is as much about his transition into getting home for the evening as much as it is about practicality. At home, the rest of the evening is for relaxing. Mike spends hours on his iPad in his lounge room with his wife on hers, while they both watch TV. He refuses to take his devices into the bedroom before he goes to sleep because he wants to be the least accessible to anyone last thing at night.

Dina is 56 and retired from working in public services last year. She has suffered from arthritis a number of years now and was worried that with retiring and becoming increasingly housebound, she would also become more socially disconnected. Instead, with her iPad and smartphone, she hasn’t become disconnected to anything at all. She has an app that allows her to order and have her medication delivered and between Facebook Messenger and Pinterest, she can chat with her friends throughout the day, sometimes these turn into long phone calls and looks up patterns for crochet and knitting. Dina’s smartphone and tablet have become part of her physical routine and social comfort now that she is less mobile.

JordanJordan is in his last year of university. He lives at home with his mum and step-father, has his own car, which he drives to the station and takes the train to uni from there. Most of Jordan’s mobile devices are for entertainment and interests. He has been into games since he was a teenager and now has a mix of friends he goes out with and friends he games with online. His phone is more of a portable entertainment unit for him than it is for communication. He reads, watches videos and listens to music on his phone on his way to and from uni. He only really chats on his phone from Messenger when he is at home. For Jordan, keeping in touch with his mum is just letting her know when he is going to be home late, whether he will miss mealtime or if he will be home after she is asleep. Apart from checking in for these logistics, they have agreed no news is good news.

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