Pre-school children creating and communicating with digital technologies in the home

Joanna McPake, Lydia Plowman, Christine Stephen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)
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There is a limited literature on pre-school children's experiences with digital technologies at home and little discussion of the ways in which children harness these technologies for their own purposes. This paper discusses findings drawn from three studies that investigated the role of domestic technologies and digital toys and games in young children's lives. Specifically, it focuses on children's early communicative and creative experiences, concluding that digital technologies have the potential to expand young children's repertoire of activities in this context. It is therefore important that pre-school and early years specialists recognise and respond to the expertise children will have already developed by the time they enter formal education, given the increasing technologisation of communicative and creative activities, likely to continue over the life course of those born at the start of the 21st century. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic center dot Young children's emergent communicative and creative competences in the early years represent valuable starting points for their more formal developmentparticularly in the context of early literacywhen they start school. What this paper adds center dot This paper explores ways in which these developing competences are supported by domestic digital technologiesthe wide and increasing range of technological tools, ranging from computers and mobile phones to MP3 players and technological toys and games available in the home. center dot It concludes that digital technologies have the potential both to facilitate communicative and creative tasks and to expand young children's repertoires. Implications for practice and/or policy center dot Early years policy in the UK already draws attention to the need to build on the experiences children bring with them from home, including their experiences of using domestic digital technologies. center dot Practitioners need to develop imaginative ways of responding to what children already know and can do with technology, in the context of communicating and creating, given the growing significance of digital technologies in these fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number3
Early online date29 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • pre-school children
  • digital technology
  • communication technologies
  • digital toys


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