Mediating family play: Exploring the expectations of digital media through a mobile application designed to facilitate real-world child–parent play
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Journal: International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
© 2018 Elsevier B.V. This article highlights the necessity of considering socio-cultural values and attitudes when designing digital media, through presenting a study that explores parental attitudes toward play and digital media in childhood. Here we present a study examining the effectiveness of a mobile application designed to encourage real-world play between parents and their children (aged three to five years old). A series of quasi-naturalistic play spaces were created in child-centric organisations with parents visiting these organisations invited to use the play space — including tablet devices loaded with the application. Surveys – including open and closed questions – were collected from 28 parents along with observational data focusing on parent–child–screen interactions. The research highlights a tension between the physicality and preconceptions of digital devices and parent–child play. We also note the mobilisation of the notion ‘quality time’ as somewhat antithetical to digital play — indeed, expectations of digital devices in childhood, alongside a presumed developmental purpose of certain forms of play, impacted the capacity of this application to facilitate real-world play. These findings and resulting methodological discussion have implications for both the design of mobile applications and future research. Moreover, this article highlights some of the values and assumptions that influence parental expectations of purposing play and digital media.