Watching young children 'play' with information technology: everyday life information seeking in the home

Lisa M. Given, Denise Cantrell Winkler, Rebekah Willson, Christina Davidson, Susan Danby, Karen Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Research on how young children use information to orient themselves in daily life and to solve problems (known as everyday life information seeking or ELIS) has not been conducted, in-depth, in information science. This exploratory observation study examines how 15 Australian preschool children (aged three to five) used information technologies in their homes to orient themselves in daily life and to solve problems. Children engaged in various ways with the digital technologies available to them and with parents and siblings during play activities. The results explore the value of artistic play, sociodramatic play, and early literacy and numeracy activities in shaping young children's ‘way of life’ and ‘mastery of life’ as outlined in Savolainen's (1995) ELIS model. Observed technology engagement provided an opportunity to explore children's social worlds and the ways that they gathered information during technology play that will inform future learning activities and support child development. By using ELIS theory as an analytic lens, the results demonstrate how children's developmental play with technology tools helps them to internalize social and cultural norms. The data also point to the type of capital available to children and how that capital contributes to children's emerging information practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-352
Number of pages9
JournalLibrary and Information Science Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2016



  • information literacy
  • information seeking behaviour
  • digital technology
  • technology play
  • child development

Cite this