This is a fast-moving time, both culturally and technologically. In the UK, most families now have their own PC, at least one mobile phone and broadband connection to the internet; and leisure technologies have transformed the ways we spend our free time. Children born this century are acquiring a wide range of technological competences from an early age; these have significant implications for their experiences and expectations of learning as they enter the early years of education, for their everyday lives, and for their future careers.
Although extensive research has investigated the use of technology by older children and teenagers, children aged 3-6 have been largely overlooked. Digital Childhoods brings together different perspectives to explore the potential of digital technologies to support young children’s play and leisure, learning, communicative competence and creativity. Emerging technologies provide opportunities to experiment with new forms of interfaces and new modes of interaction, particularly suitable for young children who do not have fine motor skills and are just learning to read. They afford new opportunities for digital play and learning, sometimes through familiar forms, such as toys, dolls or construction bricks, and sometimes through new devices which remove the need for a controller. The companies that design these products and bring them to market tell us that they need more input from social scientists, educators, and psychologists to assist in the creation and testing of prototypes.
This programme will bring together academics from a range of disciplines (education, computer science, sociology, psychology and media studies) with professional, media, business and policy experts in digital technologies for young children to address the issues raised by these developments, via the themes of Childhoods and Parenting, Playing and Learning; and Creating and Communicating.