How can interactions with digital media foster refugee families' transitions to a new culture

Savadova, Sabina and Andries, Valentina (2021) How can interactions with digital media foster refugee families' transitions to a new culture. In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 2021-09-132021-09-16, Virtual.

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"A refugee is defined as an individual who has to flee from his or her home country to escape persecution for different reasons, including race, religion, nationality or political oppression" (UNHCR Handbook, 1992). Many families who migrate, go through various adaptation processes related to new languages, places and cultures, and face uncomfortable situations and stress (Tyrer & Fazel 2014). However, children can make a huge contribution to their families' transitions in the host country (Orellana, Reynolds, Dorner & Meza 2003) as they are the ones spending most of their time outside, engaged with the culture, learning the language, and adapting to new cultural norms naturally and more quickly. The aim of this study is to explore the role of technologies in the transitions of refugee families in Auckland and Edinburgh and to determine whether children’s interactions with technologies at home have any impact on families’ transitions into a new culture. Key informants and volunteers visiting refugee family homes on a regular basis and assisting them in their transition process are research participants of this study.The research seeks to answer the following questions:1) What types of digital media are refugee children using to support their families’ transitions into new culture?2) How do children’s use of digital technologies influence refugee families’ transitions and adjustment into a new culture?Our project aims to locate the role of digital media (TV, digital devices, such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) in this mediation process through analysing children’s interactions with technologies. The study is situated with the sociocultural theory of Vygotsky (1978). The research study is mixed-method and uses qualitative and quantitative methods such as surveys and semi-structured interviews with key informants and volunteers.We are conducting surveys with key informants and volunteers who are working with refugee families living in Edinburgh, Scotland and Auckland, New Zealand. We have disseminated surveys through volunteer charities working in Edinburgh and Auckland. Out of surveys we are in the process of interviewing 11 volunteers who participated in these surveys and agreed to be interviewed.Our initial findings reveal that despite the fact that refugee families use their native language at home, they need to learn local language in order to settle in the new country. For this purpose, they make use of digital technologies at home and beyond. Considering how many parents do not know the language when they first migrate, their children who attend school and high school become a medium in their adaptation process. In doing so, children also use digital technologies in their assistance to their parents and other older family members.Based on our findings we are planning to create leaflets for families translated in their language on how digital media in a home setting can help them with cultural assimilation and language learning. The leaflets designed in comic-book format will be one way of dissemination of our results. In addition, our results can be used in setting clear guidelines for key informants and volunteers that would help them to better assist refugee families in using digital media to support their transitions into new culture and country.

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Contribution to Conference (Paper)
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British Educational Research Association Annual Conference
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30 Aug 2023 08:50
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30 Aug 2023 08:50