Playful Literacy: A thesis on young children's play practices on digital tablets

Isabel Froes

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis


Young children play with digital tablets and have fun indulging in digital worlds,
while discovering and problem-solving with a variety of narratives and interfaces
encountered on these digital playgrounds. A set of tablet play characteristics, such as multimodal applications (apps) combined with tablets’ physical and digital affordances shape children’s digital play. This thesis presents how young children’s current practices when playing with tablets inform digital experiences in Denmark and Japan. Through an interdisciplinary lens and a grounded theory approach, I have identified and mapped these practices, which compose the taxonomy of tablet play.
My contribution lies in identifying and proposing a series of theoretical concepts
that complement recent theories related to play and digital literacy studies.

The data collected through observations informed some noteworthy aspects,
including how children’s hands gain and perform an embodied knowledge of
digital spaces. This embodied knowledge develops through digital play interactions, defining what I propose as digital penmanship. Complementary to the penmanship, several symbols and a range of modes of use shape a rich multimodal semiotic vocabulary in children’s digital play experiences. These early digital experiences set the rules for the playgrounds and assert digital tablets as twenty-first-century toys, shaping young children’s playful literacy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages198
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-348-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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