Older siblings as mediators of infants’ and toddlers’ (digital) media use

Authored by: Andra Siibak , Elyna Nevski

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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Many toddlers and infants (0–3 year olds) have for some time been growing up in media-rich households (Livingstone 2002), and are increasingly surrounded by a wide range of analogue and digital media which provide them with daily opportunities to engage with diverse media. Several studies (Holloway and Green 2008; Holloway, Green and Livingstone 2013; Nikken and Schols 2015; Nevski and Siibak 2016a, b) have revealed that the habits of parents and other family members, especially siblings, have a considerable role to play in forming young children’s media diet. In short, as argued by Stephen, McPake, Plowman and Berch-Heyman (2008), “the family habitus (practices and culture) has an impact on the young child’s engagement with media technologies” (p. 24). In this context, as defined by Archer et al. (2012), the concept of ‘family habitus’ (see also Bourdieu 1990) “helps to encompass a broad spectrum of family resources, practices, values, cultural discourses and ‘identifications’” (p. 886) and helps us to understand the ways in which families operate. Thus, in this chapter, we also proceed from the assumption that, through the nature of their social relationships with their younger sisters and brothers, older siblings play a distinct role in guiding younger children’s media consumption and use of digital technologies within a broader habitus of practices.

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