Young children's digital play

This project will design, develop and evaluate an eight-week online course on digital play with two pathways for different user groups: parents (facilitated by Playbase, an Edinburgh-based charity offering training courses in childcare) and health workers (facilitated by NHS Lothian Health Promotion Service). Playbase will build on the expertise developed through their involvement in the project to oversee a third pathway for nursery workers and will host the resources for all users on their website.

Course Flyer

More than half of 3- and 4-year-old children use a tablet device such as an iPad, typically playing with it for nearly 1.5 hours a day, in addition to play on mobile phones and other devices. Parents and health workers have key roles in helping young children develop through play. Parents are hungry for guidance on family use of digital media but they don’t know where to find it; training for professionals who work with families has not kept pace with changes in a digital world so they may find it difficult to help. Our intention is to support parents’ understanding of the positive differences they can make to their child’s play, rather than to dictate how parents should deal with these digital devices.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in collaboration with our partners: Playbase, City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian. The objectives are to:

  • Accelerate the impact of research on children’s uses of digital media conducted by the Children & Technology group at Moray House School of Education. Impact to date has been primarily on the children's digital media industry and, indirectly, parents. This project extends impact to professionals, such as health visitors, and directly involves parents and their children.
  • Translate the research findings to produce attractive digital learning resources suitable for parents and professionals, to be delivered through the Playbase website.
  • Engage partners and stakeholders in designing the content and delivery of learning resources on digital play.
  • Develop and consolidate links with NHS Lothian, Playbase and Edinburgh City Council.
  • Test a model of co-producing learning resources by promoting participation of stakeholders.

The Children & Technology group at Moray House School of Education has been conducting research into the use of digital media by children and their families over many years. This project is designed to build on that work and to extend its reach through the involvement of our partners, initially from November 2016 to May 2017.

Research areas
Children & Technology
Research team

Lydia Plowman | Ben Fletcher-Watson | Andrew Manches | Valentina Andries | Juliet Hancock


Playbase: Freda O’Byrne

NHS Lothian:  Lesley Reid

City of Edinburgh Council: Margaret Westwood

Key contact
Professor Lydia Plowman

Economic and Social Research Council Impact Grant


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