Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield, UK
How is children’s play changing in the digital age? Are fundamental aspects of children’s play changing, or do many aspects of play remain the same? This is a question being asked by a range of people including parents, teachers, and the media.
In a recent research study on under 5’s use of apps, the way in which apps promoted play and creativity was explored. In order to study this area, the research team had to decide how to classify the play that they observed as they watched children use apps.
The team has recently published the paper ‘Digital Play: A New Classification‘. They adapted a typology of play developed by the play worker, Bob Hughes, in 2002, finding that the types of play observed by Hughes could also be identified in a digital context. They conclude that ‘what changes in digital contexts is not so much the types of play possible, but the nature of that play’ (Marsh et al., 2016), in that play now moves across space (physical and virtual) and time (diachronic and synchronic) in ways that are different to play in the pre-digital area. However, across these times-spaces, children are still playing imaginatively and creatively – ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’!