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Children’s Virtual Play Worlds

Culture, Learning, and Participation


Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh

As children’s digital lives become more relevant to schools and educators, the question of play and learning is being revisited in new and interesting ways. Children’s Virtual Play Worlds: Culture, Learning, and Participation provides a more reasoned account of children’s play engagements in virtual worlds through a number of scholarly perspectives, exploring key concerns and issues which have come to the forefront. The global nature of the research in this edited volume embraces many different areas of study from school based research, sociology, cultural studies, psychology, to contract law showing how children’s play and learning in virtual spaces has great potential and possibilities.
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9. “Hey! Can you show me how to do this?” Digital games as a mediator of family time


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“Hey! Can You Show Me How to Do This?”

Digital Games Mediating Family Interactions



As digital media, virtual worlds, and online games gain traction in the daily lives of children, scholars have begun debating the affordances and constraints of these kinds of digital environments (Black & Reich, 2011; Critcher, 2008; Lankshear & Knobel, 2008; Linebarger & Piotrowski, 2009). A common anxiety surrounding children’s media use is displacement of family time and a concomitant loosening of bonds within families. In this chapter, we take a sociocultural approach to understanding children’s virtual world and game use within the context of their daily lives and how it relates to family connections. Using qualitative analyses of interviews with children (aged 4–12), siblings, and parents, as well as observations of young children’s engagement with digital media over time, we show how games, virtual worlds, and media artifacts are creatively used to mediate interaction and foster social relationships among siblings, parents, and other family members.

Researchers and commentators that inquire into young people’s leisure and social practices note that technology has come to play a much larger role in them than ever before. Children’s play increasingly involves digital toys (Kafia & Giang, 2008), such as talking animals, interactive board games, and toy laptops. More and more young children in the United States have...

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