Children’s imaginative play on working and non-working technologies

Year: 2015

Author: Bird, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation will report on findings from a PhD study that investigated children’s use of working and non-working technologies in their imaginative play. The study found that educators encourage children’s use of non-working technologies because they were treated like any other play prop provided in the classroom. Children responded to the non-working technologies in three ways: 1) they accepted the technology and use it in the way educators intended, 2) they used another object to represent the technology they needed for their play, or 3) they created the technology they needed for their play. Working technologies were a different matter. There were limited examples in the data where children used the working technologies in ways that could be linked to traditional concepts of play, including imagination and separating meaning from object. When technologies are provided to children, often the restrictions imposed limited the children’s ability to use them in creative and imaginative ways. If children’s responses to the working technologies aligned with their responses to the non-working technologies, then children would be using them in imaginative ways; educators would be able to recognise their engagement as play and therefore value it as learning. Knowing how to provide working technologies in a way that fits with their play-based pedagogy can make educators reluctant to offer them in their program. Instead, illustrating children’s play-based responses can encourage educators to provide technologies in ways that foster children’s imaginative play.