Researching young children’s play in the post-digital age

Questions of method

Authored by: Jackie Marsh

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138308169
eBook ISBN: 9781315143040
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, two of the participatory research methods used in an ESRC-funded study, ‘Exploring play and creativity in young children’s use of apps’, also known as the ‘Technology and Play’ (TAP) study are explored. The study examined the use of tablet apps by children aged from birth to five in the UK and utilised a range of methodologies, including a large-scale, nationally representative survey of 2000 parents of children aged 0–5 who had access to tablets in the home. The study also included ethnographic case studies of six children, and it is this element of the study that is considered in this chapter. The aim of the chapter is to consider ways in which children’s play in the home might be studied, in particular exploring the complexities of data capture when children’s play crosses online and offline domains in a fluid manner. In the first section of the chapter, the concept of ‘post-digital play’ (Nansen et al., 2015) is explored. Information is then provided about the TAP study and its main findings in relation to play. The chapter moves on to consider two approaches made to data collection which enabled an understanding of play in a post-digital world to be developed – play tours, and the use of Point-of-View cameras. In the final section of the chapter, implications of the study for future explorations of children’s play in the home are considered.

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