Year

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Education

Abstract

Understanding the intricacies of digital play and its role in early childhood is complex given that adults drive the design, development and distribution of children's access to digital technology. The lack of representation of children's perspectives of digital play suggests that current understandings of children's play with apps is limited. This study is situated as part of a larger research project, “Conceptualising digital play: The role of tablet technologies in the development of imaginative play of young children” (ARC DP140100328). In the larger study, the multiple perspectives of families, educators and young children is the premise with which a holistic understanding of digital play is formed.

This thesis reports on the unique perspectives of children with emphasis on their experiences of engaging with digital play in apps from a very young age. It adopted a Design-Based Research (DBR) approach to explore children’s perspectives of digital play and to add their perspectives to the existing criteria for quality digital play. The study draws on children's rights methodologies combined with participatory methodologies adapted from computer-child interaction (CCI) to engage six children aged five to seven years as members of a Children's Research Advisory Group (CRAG) and four preschoolers aged two to five in the co-design of an iPad app for preschoolers. The primary roles of the CRAG involved them as co-researchers and co-designers. As co-designers, the CRAG performed the role of technology design partners in iterative cycles of co-designing and redesigning an app for preschoolers. As co-researchers, the CRAG collected data on the preschoolers' views and opinions as they played with the app during a series of Digital Playgroup sessions.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.