From Focus Group to Support Group


Parents, including any adult caretakers, play a vital role in their children’s lives. As technology use is increasing in the United States, anthropologist Ricarose Roque was interested in researching how parents today are negotiating the use of technology with their children. To study this, Roque conducted focus groups to interview multiple parents in a familiar setting, such as their local community center. The discussions, which included about 3 to 5 parents, lasted about an hour and a half. During the discussions, they would communicate about their use of technology, as well as their children’s use and its influence of their lives. At the end of the discussions, Roque noticed that the parents thoroughly enjoyed the experience so much so they wanted to do it again and exchanged contact information with others. She found that the parents connected over their sometimes overwhelming anxiety regarding the use of technology in their homes. According to Roque, “the focus group became a place to share stories, gain validation about their experiences, and connect with each other at personal and emotional levels”. The focus group had become a support group, an unexpected outcome. Although Roque intended on studying how parents are negotiating the use of technology with their children, she found that “parents used the focus group as a support group to make sense of their own relevance in their children’s live, as computing devices permeated their family activities”. Focus groups have also been used with Hurricane Katrina survivors, second-generation Muslim-Americans after September 11th, as well as many other groups. As Roque demonstrated in her research, “the focus group format can serve as a form of social support or empowerment for people who have been marginalized or victimized”.