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ERIC Number: EJ1138705
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1838-0689
Theorising Digital Play: A Cultural-Historical Conceptualisation of Children's Engagement in Imaginary Digital Situations
Fleer, Marilyn
International Research in Early Childhood Education, v7 n2 p75-90 2016
In the early childhood education literature, a growing number of studies have referenced "digital play." Many of these studies seek to describe how young children play with digital devices, notably, how they engage with different kinds of apps. This work collectively illustrates a range of play behaviours where a number of important understandings about how young children engage in virtual contexts are given. However, little theoretical work has been directed to determining if what children do on these devices would constitute play. This paper seeks to examine this literature and present a theoretical discussion on what might characterise a cultural-historical conception of digital play where the essence of digital play for children aged 3 to 5 years is considered. The analysis and theoretical discussion presented draws attention to the special nature of digital play as including an imaginary digital situation, the emergence of special forms of digital talk, digital placeholders and digital pivots to support imaginary play, and the intermeshing of digital play and social pretend play. Development of digital play, the dialectical relations between play-digital play themes, and the psychological dimensions of digital play were also noted as key for conceptualising digital play. Together, these ideas extend Vygotsky's (this issue) original conception of play and capture new societal conditions where children readily access and engage in new forms of play on digital devices.
Monash University Faculty of Education. McMahons Road, Frankston, Victoria, Australia 3199. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A