Researching children’s play and identity in the digital age

A holistic approach

Authored by: Becky Parry , Fiona Scott

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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In a study of media literacy (Buckingham 2013), two 6-year-old children were observed making choices about the media they would most like to put in a time capsule to represent them to future generations. They deliberated over their choice of title and settled on asking the future time capsule finder to: “look carefully for our lives”. Implicit in this request is an acknowledgement that the media they engage with reveals something about who they are. As Potter (2012) observes, through the media they actively choose to show affinity to, children are curating identities. Interestingly, their choices were not the latest games or digital technologies but the films The Sound of Music, made in 1965 and Mary Poppins, made in 1964. The reasons they gave were that they reminded them of their families. Our reflections on this moment from a research study undertaken some time ago, have informed this chapter. We want to look carefully at children’s engagements with the digital and this has prompted us to productively call into question what can seem like a relentless steer to focus on the new. Like Woodfall and Zezulkova (2016), we argue that: “It is a child’s lived experience that should lead our understanding, not our own or institutional historicity and presupposition” (p. 104). In the case above, it is the role of the digital to make films from the past available to children. The films are not new, but the possibility of sharing them in this way is new and they are new experiences for the children involved.

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