February 8, 2011
The quest to land a concise topic for my senior degree project has taken a few twist and turns. When I first began my initial research last semester. The main question I was trying to answer through my project was“How can help to raise awareness of cervical cancer among teenage girls ages 15-20?” With this question in mind I started doings some investigating–what causes cervical cancer? I was given some information from the educational director at Planned Parenthood, that girls are becoming sexually active around the age of 12. This information really sent me over the edge, I had no idea. I found, and most would agree, that if a 12 year is having sex she is in some desperate need of guidance and support. However the problem here is that the girls are not talking to their parents and they don’t know what is going on in their impressionable daughters lives. It was in this realization that my direction should be less on sexuality of teen girls and more towards helping that age group communicate more efficiently with their parents.
The relationship between a teenage girl and her parents is one of the most intense of all relationships. The teen is trying to find their identity apart from the family unit. This usually comes in the form of rebellion and a need for separation. While the parents are trying to protect their baby girl from the big bad world, putting a lot of pressure on the bond. This push and pull concept could be settled through communication. Which leads me to where my project is going, my plan is to create tools in which promote positive conversation between parents and their teenage daughter. This can be through both parties just talking more than they do currently, or maybe finding alternative ways for them to stay up to date on each others lives. Communications will not only help the specific relationship of the parents and teen but could also help the family stay close for years to follow.
So with the topic ironed out and the main problem of communication pin pointed. It is time to start considering what form these "communication tools" will take. One design solution could be a kit type of approach where a family with a teenage girl would receive (I am not quite sure how they would receive it yet.) But this packet could included an activity book for the parents and teen daughter to fill out together. As well as other items all with the same purpose of invoking conversations between the involved parties. My hope is that these activities would help the daughters get to know their parents more, in hopes of feeling more understood. Also this would involve some listening and some talking by both participants.
My second hypothetical design solution would be to take the same purpose as the kit, but use the abundant resource of technology in which to host it. I am imagining this becoming almost an online blog that can be accessed only by the parents and the daughter (or other family members if invited.) This blog could act as a “safe place” for the individuals to share stories, ask questions, and just all around communicate. I will need to see if teenage girls feel more comfortable talking one-on-one to their parents about sensitive topics such as personal issues. Or if they would feel more comfortable and less award writing it down or even typing in out in a post. I really like where the idea of this online blog is going. Not only because this would not only be useful to the parent teen relationship at the time, but will also help to stay in touch long after the teenage years have passed. This blog could even help them keep in touch when the teen girl goes off to college. This blog then become an archive of the relationship over the years to go back and remember the past all documented out.
This is still a little rough but it is a start and I am really happy with my new direction towards communication.