A Young Child’s Use of Multiple Technologies in the Social Organisation of a Pretend Telephone Conversation

  • Brooke ScrivenEmail author
  • Christine Edwards-Groves
  • Christina Davidson
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 22)


This chapter contributes understandings of how a young child constructs her simultaneous use of multiple technologies so that her orientation to one occasions and informs her use of another. It illustrates the interplay between technologies as they are used by the child to socially organise and produce a pretend telephone call. Data are drawn from a video recording made by the child’s mother in their home. In the recording, the child views a Barbie™ YouTube video while simultaneously constructing a pretend telephone conversation with Barbie on a toy mobile phone. The sociological perspectives of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis are used to produce detailed descriptions of the child’s talk and embodied actions using the technologies. Analysis reveals how the interplay between technologies is developed in the child’s orientation, via gaze, gesture and talk, to each device. Discussion establishes that the child’s meaning-making of the video is integral to her construction of her telephone conversation. It highlights how the child displays interactional competencies and knowledge of how people interact over the phone to accomplish her social world.



The project Interacting with Knowledge, Interacting with People: Web Searching in Early Childhood was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP110104227). The chief investigators are Susan Danby, Karen Thorpe and Christina Davidson. The project was approved by the human research ethics committees of the Queensland University of Technology (Ref No: 1100001480) and Charles Sturt University (Reference No: 2012/40). We thank the teachers, children and families of The Crèche and Kindergarten Association for their participation in this study.


  1. Aarsand, P. A. (2007). Computer and video games in family life: The digital divide as a resource in intergenerational interactions. Childhood, 14(2), 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alper, M., & Herr-Stephenson, R. (2013). Transmedia play: Literacy across media. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 5(2), 366–369.Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson, J. M., & Heritage, J. (1984). Jefferson’s transcript notation. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. ix–xvi). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Children’s participation in cultural and leisure activities: Internet and mobile phones.. Retrieved from
  5. Button, G., & Casey, N. (1985). Topic nomination and topic pursuit. Human Studies, 8(1), 3–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chaudron, S. (2015). Young children and digital technology: A qualitative exploratory study across seven countries. Ispra: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  7. Childwise. (2014). The monitor pre-school report 2014 – Key behaviour patterns among 0 to 4 year olds. Norwich: Childwise.Google Scholar
  8. Common Sense Media. (2013). Zero to eight: Children’s media use. Retrieved from
  9. Danby, S., Davidson, C., Theobald, M., Scriven, B., Cobb-Moore, C., Houen, S., et al. (2013). Talk in activity during young children’s use of digital technologies at home. Australian Journal of Communication, 40(2), 83–100.Google Scholar
  10. Davidson, C. (2010). “Click on the big red car”: The social accomplishment of playing a Wiggles computer game. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(4), 375–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davidson, C. (2011). Seeking the green basilisk lizard: Acquiring digital literacy practices in the home. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 12(1), 24–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fitzgerald, R. (1999). Method in media interaction: An ethnomethodological analysis of a radio phone-in show (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales.Google Scholar
  13. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Garfinkel, H. (1996). Ethnomethodology’s program. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59(1), 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gillen, J. (2000a). Listening to young children talking on the telephone: A reassessment of Vygotsky’s notion of “eccentric speech”. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 1(2), 171–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gillen, J. (2000b). Recontextualisation: The shaping of telephone discourse in play by three and four year olds. Language and Education, 14(4), 250–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gillen, J. (2002). Moves in the territory of literacy? The telephone discourse of three- and four-year-olds. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 2(1), 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haddington, P., & Rauniomaa, M. (2011). Technologies, multitasking and driving: Attending to and preparing for a mobile phone conversation in a car. Human Communication Research, 37(2), 223–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heritage, J. (1984). A change-of-state token and aspects of its sequential placement. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 299–345). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hutchby, I., & Moran-Ellis, J. (Eds.). (1998). Children and social competence: Arenas of action. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kervin, L. (2016). Powerful and playful literacy learning with digital technologies. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 39(1), 64–73.Google Scholar
  22. Kervin, L., Verenikina, I., & Rivera, M. C. (2015). Collaborative onscreen and offscreen play: Examining meaning-making complexities. Digital Culture and Education, 7(2), 228–239.Google Scholar
  23. Marsh, J. (2002a). Electronic toys: Why should we be concerned? A response to Levin and Rosenquest (2001). Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 3(1), 132–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marsh, J. (2002b). The sound of silence: Emergent technoliteracies and the early learning goal. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association. University of Exeter, England.Google Scholar
  25. Marsh, J. (2004). The techno-literacy practices of young children. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 2(1), 51–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marsh, J. (2011). Young children’s literacy practices in a virtual world: Establishing an online interaction order. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(2), 101–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marsh, J. (2013). Countering chaos in Club Penguin: Young children’s literacy practices in a virtual world. In G. Merchant, J. Gillen, J. Marsh, & J. Davies (Eds.), Virtual literacies: Interactive spaces for children and young people (pp. 75–88). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Nixon, H., & Hateley, E. (2013). Books, toys, and tablets: Playing and learning in the age of digital media. In K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber, & L. C. Moll (Eds.), International handbook of research on children’s literacy, learning and culture (pp. 28–41). Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ofcom. (2016). Children’s media lives – Year 2 findings. London: Office of Communications. Retrieved from Scholar
  30. Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 57–101). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Sacks, H. (1995). In G. Jefferson (Ed.), Lectures on conversation (Vol. 1 & 2). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  32. Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organisation of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50(4), 696–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schegloff, E. A. (1968). Sequencing in conversational openings. American Anthropologist, 70(6), 1075–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schegloff, E. A. (1986). The routine as achievement. Human Studies, 9(2–3), 111–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schegloff, E. A. (1972). Notes on a conversational practice: Formulating place. In D. N. Sudnow (Ed.), Studies in social interaction (pp. 75–119). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  36. Schegloff, E. A. (1987). Recycled turn beginnings: A precise repair mechanism in conversation’s turn-taking organization. In G. Button & J. R. E. Lee (Eds.), Talk and social organisation (pp. 70–85). Clevedon: Multilingual matters.Google Scholar
  37. Schegloff, E. A. (1993). Telephone conversation. In R. E. Asher (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of language and linguistics (Vol. 9, pp. 4547–4549). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  38. Schegloff, E. A. (2002). Reflections on research on telephone conversation: Issues of cross-cultural scope and scholarly exchange, interactional import and consequences. In L. K. Kwong & P. Theodossia-Soula (Eds.), Telephone calls: Unity and diversity in conversational structure across languages and cultures (pp. 249–281). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organisation in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schegloff, E. A., & Sacks, H. (1973). Opening up closings. Semiotica, 8(4), 289–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schutz, A. (1976). Fragments of phenomenology of music. In F. Kersten (Ed.), Music and man, 2(1–2), 23–71.Google Scholar
  42. Scriven, B. (2017). Producing knowledge with digital technologies in sibling interaction. In A. Bateman & A. Church (Eds.), Children and knowledge: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 313–332). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  43. Stephen, C., Stevenson, O., & Adey, C. (2013). Young children engaging with technologies at home: The influence of family context. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 11(2), 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Szymanski, M. H. (1999). Re-engaging and dis-engaging talk in activity. Language in Society, 28(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Verenikina, I., & Kervin, L. (2011). iPads, digital play and pre-schoolers. He Kupa, 2(5), 4–19.Google Scholar
  46. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thinking and speech. In R. Rieber & A. Carton (Eds.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume I: Problems of general psychology (pp. 43–287, N. Minick, Trans.). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  47. Whalen, M. R. (1995). Working towards play: Complexity in children’s fantasy activities. Language in Society, 24(3), 315–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wootton, A. J. (1981). Children’s use of address terms. In P. French & M. MacLure (Eds.), Adult-child conversation (pp. 142–158). London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  49. Yelland, N. J. (2010). New technologies, playful experiences, and multimodal learning. In I. R. Berson & M. J. Berson (Eds.), High-tech tots: Childhood in a digital world (pp. 5–22). Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brooke Scriven
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine Edwards-Groves
    • 1
  • Christina Davidson
    • 1
  1. 1.Charles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

Personalised recommendations