Digital Play and Learning in the Home: Families’ Perspective

  • Lisa KervinEmail author
  • Irina Verenikina
  • Clara Rivera
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 22)


This chapter reports on our exploration of families’ perspectives on the role and place of the tablet technologies in their children’s educational and recreational activities. We report on interview data from parents within 17 purposively sampled families with children aged between 3 and 5 years who regularly used various tablet technologies in their homes. Thematic analysis of individual and focus group interview transcripts reveals that all the parents appreciated the opportunities that tablet technologies provide for enhancing their children’s experiences of learning and play. All the parents saw the importance of early learning for their children’s future academic success; many also acknowledged that digital play is part of the “basic” knowledge that children should experience prior to formal schooling. However, none of the parents were sure about the criteria in selecting software applications beyond common-sense criteria of affordability, online information and word-of-mouth recommendations. In the chapter we aim to share the perspectives of parents in relation to the ways that they judge the best practices of using the tablet technologies in young children; their choices of appropriate applications for their children’s recreation and learning, and the ways that they monitor the use of these technologies with their families.


  1. Alliance for Childhood. (2004). Tech tonic: Towards a new literacy of technology. College Park: Alliance for Childhood.Google Scholar
  2. Bruner, O., & Bruner, K. (2006). Playstation nation: Protect your child from video game addiction. New York: Center Street.Google Scholar
  3. Byron, T. (2008). Safer children in a digital world: The report of the Byron review. Annesley: Department of Children, Schools and Families Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Holloway, D., Green, L., & Stevenson, K. (2015). Digitods: Toddlers, touch screens and Australian family life. Media and Culture, 18(5), 1–7. Retrieved from Scholar
  5. Howard, V., & Wallace, M. (2016). Today’s tech literacy tools: Parental perceptions of apps for preschoolers. Children and Libraries, 14(1), 3–9. doi:
  6. Huh, Y. J. (2014). What makes young children active game players; Ethnographic case study. DiGRA’14 – Proceedings of DiGRA International Conference. Retrieved from
  7. Johnson, J. E., & Christie, J. F. (2009). Play and digital media. Computers in the Schools, 26(4), 284–289. doi:
  8. Kervin, L., Verenikina, I., & Rivera, M. C. (2015). Collaborative onscreen and offscreen play: Examining meaning-making complexities. Digital Culture & Education, 7(2), 228–239. Retrieved from Scholar
  9. Lee, S. J., & Chae, Y. G. (2007). Children’s internet use in a family context: Influence on family relationships and parental mediation. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 10(5), 640–644. doi:
  10. Livingstone, S., & Helsper, E. J. (2008). Parental mediation of children’s internet use. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52(4), 581–599. doi:
  11. Marsh, J. (2006). Emergent media literacy: Digital animation in early childhood. Language and Education, 20(6), 493–506. Scholar
  12. Matsumoto, M., Aliagas, C., Morgade Salgado, M., Correro, C., Galera, N., Roncero, C., & Poveda, D. (2015). Young children (0–8) and digital technology: A qualitative exploratory study (National report). Spain.. Retrieved from
  13. McLean, K., Edwards, S., Colliver, Y., & Schaper, C. (2014). Supported playgroups in schools: What matters for caregivers and their children? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39(4), 73–80.Google Scholar
  14. Melhuish, E. C., Phan, M. B., Sylva, K., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B. (2008). Effects of the home learning environment and preschool center experience upon literacy and numeracy development in early primary school. Journal of Social Issues, 64(1), 95–114. doi:
  15. Neumann, M. M. (2014). An examination of touch screen tablets and emergent literacy in Australian pre-school children. Australian Journal of Education, 58(2), 109–122. doi:
  16. Pahl, K. (2010). Changing literacies: Schools, communities and homes. In J. Lavia & M. Moore (Eds.), Cross-cultural perspectives on policy and practice: Decolonizing community contexts (pp. 58–71). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Plowman, L., McPake, J., & Stephen, C. (2010). The technologisation of childhood? Young children and technology in the home. Children & Society, 24(1), 63–74. doi:
  18. Rosen, L. (2008). The association of parenting style and child age with parental limit setting and adolescent MySpace behaviour. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 459–471. doi:
  19. 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. doi:
  20. Valcke, M., Bonte, S., De Wever, B., & Rots, I. (2010). Internet parenting styles and the impact on internet use of primary school children. Computers & Education, 55(2), 454–464: doi:
  21. Verenikina, I., & Kervin, L. (2011). iPads, digital play and pre-schoolers. He Kupu, 2(5), 4–19. doi:
  22. Verenikina, I., Kervin, L., & Murphy, C. (2013). Conceptualising digital play: The role of tablet technologies in the development of imaginative play of young children, Australian Research Council Discovery Project. Wollongong: University of Wollongong.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationFaculty of Social Science, University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Personalised recommendations