P(l)aying online

Toys, apps and young consumers on transmedia playgrounds

Authored by: Karen E. Wohlwend

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Literacies in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138303881
eBook ISBN: 9780203730638
Adobe ISBN:


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When children play together, they often enact and retell stories from their favorite transmedia franchises for toys, popular films, video games, mobile apps, clothing, school supplies, snacks, and so on. Transmedia refers to multimedia with a line of toys and consumer goods that are decorated with popular media characters and storied through a film’s grounding narrative (Kinder 1991; Jenkins et al. 2006). Examples of highly popular children’s transmedia include Disney’s film-based Star Wars, Frozen, Disney Princess, and The Avengers; and Mattel’s doll-based Barbie and Monster High. The distribution networks for commercial media franchises carry characters and narratives across film screens, fast food promotions, toy manufacturer websites, brick-and-mortar retail stores, video game consoles, and mobile phones in children’s homes, schools, and communities. In this way, a film or video game materializes a core storyline through a set of toys and consumer products that pervade daily life.

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