Dangers in the invisible playground? young people and online play

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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This chapter will consider what is present in the literature about the play of children aged between 11 and 15 and disseminate some results from recent research with 11–14-year olds relating to what children say about how they ‘have fun’ both on and offline. School was seen by these children as principally an ‘occupational hazard’ when they looked at their daily lives from the perspective of where their opportunities to ‘have fun’ arose. The results indicated that children were seeking a significant number of their association and ‘fun’ activities online, but that they were not wholly satisfied with this. For example, one 11-year old commented, “A lot of people go on their phones rather than going outside, people aren’t really social anymore”, while others commented that children would be better served by more places to play outdoors and spending less time on screen-based interaction. One of the problems with researching play in this age group is raised by Smith and Lilliard (Journal of Cognition and Development, 13(4), 524–529, 2012) in their comment that there is a general cultural belief emerging from Piaget’s (1962) comment that free play effectively ceases at the end of his preoperational stage (7 years of age), being replaced by games with rules. Additionally, “education is viewed narrowly in terms of driving an individual child through curriculum content … at the expense of activities that would involve a broadening out of their experiences” (Olusoga & Keen, Play, Children and Primary Schools. In A. Brock, P. Jarvis, & Y. Olusoga (Eds.), Perspectives on Play. Routledge, 2019, p. 197). When all this is added to “children’s changing relationship with public space” (Hartman et al., New Media and Society, 17, 1777–1794, 2015), which describes the declining number of children allowed to ‘play out’ in their local neighbourhoods, researchers have to carefully pick their way around the literature to find relevant material representing the current state of play for 11–14-year olds in the United Kingdom. This chapter represents an attempt to extend this area of understanding by gathering information from the children and young people themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlay across childhood
Subtitle of host publicationinternational perspectives on diverse contexts of play
EditorsPete King, Shelly Newstead
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783030724610
ISBN (Print)9783030724603, 9783030724634
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


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