Conference paper: Play, Children, & Being Digital: Exploring Children’s Autotelic Play in Digital Spaces

Play for play’s sake is viewed a child’s primary occupation from which meaning is derived that transcends it’s inherent health, educational or other such value. Examined from this perspective is to acknowledge the intrinsic contribution the doing of play contributes the child’s being. The proliferation of technology in an ever-connected world offers increasingly diverse digital spaces for children to play. Such digital spaces present new opportunities for children to co-create new expressions of play; whether alone, with friends, indoors and outdoors, in real and in make-believe worlds. Despite literature in relation to play in digital spaces coming from a plethora of academic fields, this occupational perspective of play as a child-centred, autotelic pursuit remains largely ignored. This research will explore digital play choices, experiences, and outcomes from children’s unique perspective. Furthermore, this research aims to reflect the rights and agency of children as meaning-makers and active contributors in inquiry [3], using creative and adaptive approaches through the research process. It is envisioned that this research will contribute to the understanding of the autotelic nature of play in digital spaces. Such understanding will assist children and adults to leverage technology to ensure that meaningful playful experiences proliferate in the future.

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