Using robotic toys in early childhood education to support children’s social and emotional competencies

Sarika Kewalramani, Ioanna Palaiologou, Maria Dardanou, Kelly-Ann Allen, Sivanes Phillipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This Australian study examines whether and how technologies such as Artificially Intelligent (AI) toys in a home-based setting might socially and emotionally support children with diverse needs through play. Building on the concept of ‘emotional capital’, and employing a design-based research approach, parents during the COVID-19 lockdown periods in 2020 intentionally used robotic toys
to engage their children with additional diverse needs in home-based play experiences. The data from both parents’ and children’s (n = 5) Zoom interviews, digital observations and children’s drawings demonstrated how children creatively conversed with their AI robots in innovative and empathy-based dialogues that generated happy feelings and a sense of ‘imaginary’ togetherness with
their robot during the coding experiences. This study contributes to research by exploring the use of AI robotic toys together with physical and artificial environments and offers a case to build children’s emotional capital in enabling children’s social-emotional literacies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAustralasian Journal of Early Childhood
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 2021


  • Play with social robotic toys
  • digital technologies in early childhood education
  • children with diverse additional needs
  • child social emotional development

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