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Evidence Base

Sensitivity to parental play beliefs and mediation in young children's hybrid play activities


Play Facilitation Parents Intergenerational Design Research

Publication details

Year: 2015
DOI: 10.1145/2771839.2771857
Issued: 2015
Language: English
Start Page: 170
End Page: 177
Authors: Bleumers L.; Mouws K.; Huyghe J.; Van Mechelen M.; Mariën I.; Zaman B.
Type: Other
Journal: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children
Publisher: ACM
Topics: Learning; Social mediation
Sample: The survey was sent out to 38.230 parents with at least one child between four and six years old in Belgium (Flanders). A total of 2.177 parents participated in the online survey, which resulted in 1398 completed entries of parents.
Implications For Parents About: Parental practices / parental mediation; Parenting guidance / support


Supporting young children's play in the digital world is a challenging endeavor. Little is known, however, about the parental beliefs and mediation practices regarding children’s facilitated play in hybrid (mixed digital/physical) environments and how one can account for this through design. Following a Value Sensitive Design approach, we performed: 1) a conceptual literature investigation, 2) an empirical survey with 1398 parents of child(ren) aged 4-6 years, and 3) a technical investigation on online customer reviews of hybrid playful products for children. Our findings reveal the role of parents’ mediation and beliefs in shaping young children's play. We provide designers with guidance to be accountable of the way design properties can foster parental play beliefs and support adult-child interaction. We conclude that young children's facilitated play in hybrid environments is shaped by both the social context in which it is enacted and the affordances provided through design.


The article aimed to (1) promote sensitivity to the various parental benefits attributed to children’s facilitated play and types of parental involvement, and (2) help them to identify their own position and focus in relation to these sensitivities. This way, they can become more accountable in the decisions they make as to which play beliefs and forms of parental participation are to be supported in the design. "Some parents pick up the fact that playful technologies promote social interaction and cooperation among children or provide a virtual companion, which children can cherish and care for. Such features can be seen as beneficial for social and emotional development. They also believed to spark personal creativity and imagination. Nevertheless, some claimed how technology may necessitate adult involvement. Parents most often supervise their four- to six-year-olds during digital media use. In terms of restrictions, most parents limit the screen-time children get on tablets and smartphones to 15 to 30 minutes." (Bleumers et al., 2015, pp. 173-174)

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