Digital play in the early years: a contextual response to the problem of integrating technologies and play-based pedagogies in the early childhood curriculum

In many countries technologies are still not fully integrated with perspectives on play-based learning in early childhood education. This is evidenced in international curriculum documents that continue to separate descriptions of play as a basis for learning from the use of technologies as learning outcomes for young children. Meanwhile, technologies continue to be rapidly interfaced with digital media, and in particular, provide a platform for young children's consumption of popular culture. Understanding children's play is this newly emerging context provides one way of thinking about how best to bridge the gap between pedagogical understandings of play and young children's experiences with digital technologies, digital media and their consumption of popular culture. This article examines the emerging context using ideas drawn from cultural historical theory, the sociology of consumption and the sociology of childhood to explore children's contemporary play experiences. It is suggested that a contextual orientation towards the problem of digital play in the early years might better support teachers to effectively engage children in the range of critical thinking skills that are associated with the 'new learning' and 'new literacies' movements in both primary and secondary education.

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