Digital peer play: meta-imaginary play embedded in early childhood play-based settings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Digital childhood captures the everydayness of children growing up in many European and European heritage communities (Danby et al., Digital childhood. Springer, Amsterdam, 2018), where young children’s engagement with digital devices (Arnott, Digital technologies and learning in the early years. Sage, London. ISBN 978-1-41296-242-1, 2017) has become normalised. Despite the arguments for both positive and negative dimensions of increasing screen time (Walker et al., Use of digital technologies and cognitive self-regulation in young children. Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. In: Danby S, Fleer M, Davidson C, Hatzigianni M (eds) Digital childhood, Springer, Amsterdam, 2018), little attention has been directed to how peers play together in early childhood settings where digital devices, such as touch screen tablets and animation apps, are being introduced. This chapter follows a group of 24 children (1.6–5.3; mean age 3.5 years) and their teachers (n = 10; 23.5 h of video observations) engaged in imaginary play (Hakkarainen et al., Eur Early Childhood Edu Res J 21(2):213–225., 2013). The study found that digital meta-imaginary peer play situations appeared within the holistic context of peer-initiated play and adult-initiated play inquiry. The key drivers of this holistic conception of digital peer play featured digital placeholders and virtual pivots, and this dynamic evolved over time as the adults became players to support play development and as children became narrators of the digital play.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeer P Lay and Relationships in Early Childhood
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Research Perspectives
EditorsAvis Ridgway, Gloria Quiñones, Liang Li
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030423315
ISBN (Print)9783030423308
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development
ISSN (Print)2468-8746
ISSN (Electronic)2468-8754


  • Conceptual playworld
  • Cultural-historical
  • Playworlds
  • STEM

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