We want to emphasize two key
takeaways from our experience:
Use fun, creative activities as
conversation stimuli. From previous
work, and this event experience, we
learned that families have a latent
interest in discussing health-related
topics and, once stimulated to do so,
their discussions can be interesting and
beneficial. How can we encourage more
conversations like these? Our experience
suggests that giving individuals time
and space along with fun, creative
ways to frame conversations produced
dialogues about healthy behavior
that were engaging and helpful to
everyone involved. We watched a mom
and her child illustrate a story about
superheroes fighting bad eating habits
and witnessed a young boy realize that
he needs to improve his flossing habit.
This realization was pleasing to his
grandmother, who took the opportunity
to reaffirm the importance of flossing.
Given the increased interest in health
informatics and family-centered design,
there is a terrific opportunity for
researchers and designers to innovate
fun, creative artifacts and systems to
promote conversations like the ones we
observed. The activities we chose, poster
creation and Health Bingo, allowed for
fluid movement between individual and
collaborative activities. Drawing could
be an individual activity periodically
paused so that the art makers could
discuss their drawings with one another.
Alternatively, family members could
draw together if they chose to do so—
like the mother and child who ended
up illustrating a superhero fighting bad
Synthesize different family
members’ perspectives when designing.
During the event, we talked with
people in different stages of life about
healthy living. We learned that from
a child’s perspective, eating habits
are an important aspect of health.
Eating vegetables and fruits was often
mentioned as a healthy living practice.
When considering the viewpoint of an
older individual, such as a parent and
grandparent, we observed an interest
in reinforcing healthy behaviors for
younger generations. But it seemed
they also wanted to expand healthy
living practices within their families.
During the conversations, parents and
grandparents would often mention
physical and mental activities as part
of health, which may include various
activities such as participating in a
family community event. How can
we incorporate all these perspectives
when designing for families? Our
experience suggests that having positive
conversations around each individual’s
ideas about healthy living is useful for
identifying differences and similarities
in family members’ perspectives. We
see here an interesting opportunity to
innovate in how a family member may
present their point of view on healthy
living to their family; as each person
shares, it is important to synthesize
all information to effectively promote
collaboration on healthy living within
families. Making use of artifacts (e.g., a
Bingo game) to encourage conversations
was one valuable approach toward
fostering family collaboration in health.
1. Binda, J., Yuan, C. W., Cope, N., Park,
H., Choe, E.K., and Carroll, J. M.
Supporting effective sharing of health
information among intergenerational
family members. Proc. of the 12th EAI
International Conference on Pervasive
Computing Technologies for Healthcare.
ACM, New York, 2018, 148–157; https://
2. Binda, J., Georgieva, E., Yang, Y.,
Gui, F., Beck, J., and Carroll, J. M.
PhamilyHealth: A photo sharing system
for intergenerational family collaboration
on health. Companion of the 2018 ACM
Conference on Computer Supported
Cooperative Work and Social Computing.
ACM, New York, 2018, 337–340; https://
Jomara Sandbulte is a Ph.D. student at
Pennsylvania State University’s College of
Information Sciences and Technology. Her
research interests include health informatics
and design research.
Jordan Beck is an assistant professor
of user experience design at the Milwaukee
School of Engineering. His research interests
include scholarly communication and the tools
that shape and facilitate it.
Janice Whitaker is the administrator and
community liaison for the Center of Geriatric
Nursing Excellence at Pennsylvania State
University’s College of Nursing.
John M. Carroll is a distinguished professor
at Pennsylvania State University’s College
of Information Sciences and Technology. His
research interests include methods and theory
for human-centered design.
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG JANUARY–FEBRUARY 2020 INTERACTIONS 9
DOI: 10.1145/3374768 COP YRIGHT HELD BY AUTHORS
Mother and child working together on their poster, using materials offered during our event.