PhD Candidate - Early Stage Researcher 4
PhD Research Title: Exploring participation in play in digital spaces through childhood
Fiona is exploring children’s perspectives of their participation in play in digital spaces throughout her PhD. This will consist of a total of 4 studies resulting in four published peer-reviewed articles.
Study 1 is a scoping review which aims to describe and review the qualitative research articles which explores children’s experiences of play in digital spaces from infancy to adolescence.
Study 2 will explore the dimensions that influence children’s choices when playing using tablet and mobile devices within the family context.
The third study will examine the affordances that promote children’s participation in play in digital spaces.
The fourth study will be further defined following analysis of data that has been generated for the second and third studies.
As of July 2022, Fiona has completed her scoping review which has been submitted to a journal and is awaiting feedback regarding publication. The data for studies two and three has been generated and Fiona is currently in the process of analysing the data from study two.
For many, the use of digital devices and technology with children is dominated by discourses centred around screen time and lazy entertainment which are associated with levels of consumptions, violence, and addiction. Fiona is interested in promoting the potential affordances of digital spaces as an occupation and a place where friendships are maintained in an extension of the school playground, and in which identities are formed. Initial findings demonstrate that children do not distinguish play in digital spaces from other types of play the same was as adults do and Fiona is intent on sharing awareness of this and the possible play experiences within digital spaces. Despite the topic of her PhD, Fiona does not actively play video games herself but appreciates that technologies are proffering children a range of opportunities.
Fiona’s secondment partner is Aiju, the Technological Institute specialising in toys, children’s products and leisure, based in the town of Ibi (Alicante). Fiona will spend 3 months working with Aiju in 2023 to enhance understanding of working in a European wide organisation and develop skills of grant writing and the application process.
Fiona graduated from the Robert Gordon University in 2007 with a BSc (hons) in Occupational Therapy. From then, she has worked predominantly within Children, Young People, and Families’ services across the United Kingdom. With the introduction of Ready to Act (Scottish Government, 2015), Fiona was actively involved in her local area in the provision of universal and targeted interventions to support whole groups of children, utilising the school context to facilitate this. This balance between specialist, targeted and universal interventions is critical in supporting whole populations as well as increasing awareness of the role and scope of the occupational therapy profession and was consequently the focus of her research for her MSc. Fiona completed her MSc in Quality Improvement at the University of Dundee; developing research skills within clinical practice. As part of her MSc, a qualitative research project was completed exploring teacher’s experiences of, and opinions about, a universal handwriting intervention. This research identified that the knowledge and skills gained by practitioners through their participation impacted positively on the experiences provided to children within early years’ settings and their understanding of the role of occupational therapy as well as their will to collaborate. Fiona applied to participate in the P4Play Joint Doctorate in Occupational Science for Occupational Therapists to enhance her research skills within a network and develop knowledge and understanding of the application of Occupational Science.
Last year, Fiona was accepted to participate in the Doctoral Consortium of Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Play Conference which was held online as a result of COVID-19. Consequently, her extended abstract entitled ‘Play, Children, & Being Digital: Exploring Children’s Autotelic Play in Digital Spaces’ was published in the Extended Abstracts of the 2021 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play. (https://doi.org/10.1145/3450337.3483517)
In collaboration with Fiona’s fellow ESR, Ines Wenger and their supervisors a poster was presented at the Play 2021 conference in Birmingham with our poster entitled: Oh’ The Places You’ll Go: Adventures Outdoors and in Digital Playgrounds. This can be found on Zenodo: (https://zenodo.org/record/5160358#.YsVTCWDMI2w)
Fiona also presented virtually at the Occupational Science Europe Conference in collaboration with Dr Tina McGrath on doing in a digital space.
This year, Fiona has been successfully accepted to present at the Inaugural World Occupational Science Conference in Vancouver and the World Occupational Therapy Congress in Paris. Fiona is also hoping to present and attend the CHI Play 2022 conference in Bremen, Germany.