Research – ESR 4

Enhancing children’s participation in digital play spaces


  • To develop new knowledge of the nature of play occupations in digital spaces
  • To increase understanding of the impact of gender, age and ability on participation in play in technology supported environments.
  • To provide a knowledge base that will support the health and well-being of children and families using technology to support play occupations.
  • To inform new practices for stakeholders such as game designers, content developers and Occupational Therapists in supporting successful play participation in digital spaces.

PhD award:

Double degree at University College Cork (UCC) and Lulea University of Technology (LTU)

Background rationale:

As technology proliferates across all of society children’s occupations including play are increasingly influenced by their relationships with that technology. The new generations of ‘digital natives’ possess a range of skills and aptitudes through opportunities for technology engagement throughout their early years. Increasingly children are choosing not only to communicate but used social networks to construct personal spaces populated with virtual artefacts and interactions that are incorporated into a many of their chosen occupations. Children and families increasingly look to technology to support their participation in occupational domains such as education, health. With increasing awareness of and attention to the individual and societal consequences of ‘digital living’ the need to examine the experience of and participation in play occupations in digital spaces has emerged.

Expected results:

  • The development of new knowledge regarding the experience of play in digital spaces for children.
  • A synthesis of the composite studies in this research will inform health promotion for children and families focussing on the mechanisms by which play in digital spaces can contribute to the overall development and well-being of children and young people.
  • The identification of new knowledge and processes that will inform the practice of Occupational Therapy in an increasingly digitized and connected world where successful participation in occupation is predicated by our relationship with technology.
Dr Bryan Boyle

Supervisor at University College Cork for ESR 4 and ESR 8

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Prof Maria Larsson-Lund

Supervisor at Luleå University Of Technology for ESR 4

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PHD Student:
Fiona Loudoun

PhD Candidate - Early Stage Researcher 4

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Noemi Rando

Advisor for ESR 4

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