Children have the right to play (Article 31, UNCRC) and this right applies in both physical and digital environments. However, the digital environment was not made for children to play freely by design. To reimagine a digital world that promotes children’s agency in their play, we map the qualities of free play onto our analysis of the features of the digital environment. This blog post highlights what we found out about which digital features facilitate or constrain children’s free play.
Building on insights from our public consultation and discussions with experts, our mapping is based on the statistical correlations observed between the qualities of free play and the features of the digital environment reported by children in the Digital Future Commission’s national survey. Children’s reports were based on their experience playing two apps of their choice (we asked about 8 different apps altogether and combined the results). As shown in Table 1, a positive correlation suggests that a feature facilitates one of the 12 qualities of play; a negative correlation suggests it constrains play (though bear in mind that correlation cannot establish causation).
This post represents the views of the authors and not the position of the Parenting for a Digital Future blog, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
About the author
Dr Kruakae Pothong is a researcher at 5Rights and visiting research fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics and Political Science. Her current research focuses on child-centred design for digital services and children’s education data. Her broader research interests span the areas of human-computer interaction, digital ethics, data protection, Internet and other related policies.
Sonia Livingstone OBE is Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Taking a comparative, critical and contextual approach, her research examines how the changing conditions of mediation are reshaping everyday practices and possibilities for action. She has published twenty books on media audiences, media literacy and media regulation, with a particular focus on the opportunities and risks of digital media use in the everyday lives of children and young people. See www.sonialivingstone.net