Culture, Learning, and Participation
Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh
5. Breaking the Ice: Play, Friendships, and Online Identities in Young Children’s Use of Virtual Worlds
c h a p t e r f i v e Breaking the Ice Play, Friendships, and Online Identities in Young Children’s Use of Virtual Worlds Jackie Marsh Playful interactions with technological toys and games have become increasingly significant in young children’s lives over a number of years. It is inevitable that this should be the case, given the way in which toys reflect the zeitgeist of a given era, as Marina Warner notes: In one of the essays in Mythologies, Roland Barthes excoriated the toys of the time: “French toys are like a Jivaro head,” he writes, “in which one rec- ognizes, shrunken to the size of an apple, the wrinkles and hair of the adult.” For the toy industry, like children’s publishing, always interacts with contemporary values and mores, instrumentalizing the psyche. (Warner, 2009, p. 15) The move to the development of online play facilities for young children in recent years can, therefore, be viewed as another indication of this phenomenon. In this chapter, I look at children’s playful engagement with an online Disney product, the virtual world Club Penguin. Virtual worlds oﬀer important contexts for early socialisation and it is, therefore, important to examine the practices that occur in these environments. The chapter outlines findings from a study of young children’s use of Club Penguin and examines the way in which online identities and social friendships are developed and managed through play in a virtual environment. BurkeMarsh Final_BurkeMarsh fin 6/11/13 1:31 PM Page 59...
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