Joanna McPake is Reader in the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde. Lydia Plowman is Professor and Christine Stephen is Research Fellow at the School of Education at the University of Stirling. Together, we have undertaken three studies of pre-school children's experiences with digital technologies at home, addressing issues such as whether children from low-income families are disadvantaged in this regard, how the acquisition of early digital literacies compares with traditional literacies and the characteristics of play with digital toys and games. An in-depth discussion of the findings from our first two studies can be found in our recent book, Growing up with technology: young children learning in a digital world.
Pre-school children creating and communicating with digital technologies in the home
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. British Journal of Educational Technology © 2012 BERA
British Journal of Educational Technology
Volume 44, Issue 3, pages 421–431, May 2013
How to Cite
McPake, J., Plowman, L. and Stephen, C. (2013), Pre-school children creating and communicating with digital technologies in the home. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44: 421–431. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01323.x
- Issue published online: 9 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012
There is a limited literature on pre-school children's experiences with digital technologies at home and little discussion of the ways in which children harness these technologies for their own purposes. This paper discusses findings drawn from three studies that investigated the role of domestic technologies and digital toys and games in young children's lives. Specifically, it focuses on children's early communicative and creative experiences, concluding that digital technologies have the potential to expand young children's repertoire of activities in this context. It is therefore important that pre-school and early years specialists recognise and respond to the expertise children will have already developed by the time they enter formal education, given the increasing technologisation of communicative and creative activities, likely to continue over the life course of those born at the start of the 21st century.
What is already known about this topic
- • Young children's emergent communicative and creative competences in the early years represent valuable starting points for their more formal development—particularly in the context of early literacy—when they start school.
What this paper adds
- • This paper explores ways in which these developing competences are supported by domestic digital technologies—the wide and increasing range of technological tools, ranging from computers and mobile phones to MP3 players and technological toys and games available in the home.
- • It concludes that digital technologies have the potential both to facilitate communicative and creative tasks and to expand young children's repertoires.
Implications for practice and/or policy
- • Early years policy in the UK already draws attention to the need to build on the experiences children bring with them from home, including their experiences of using domestic digital technologies.
- • Practitioners need to develop imaginative ways of responding to what children already know and can do with technology, in the context of communicating and creating, given the growing significance of digital technologies in these fields.