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At home with the future : influences on young children's early experiences with digital technologies

McPake, Joanna and Plowman, Lydia (2010) At home with the future : influences on young children's early experiences with digital technologies. In: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education. Open University Press. ISBN 9780335237876

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Abstract

Early years curricula encourage practitioners to build on children's home experiences. Research into the kinds of activities that young children engage in at home and considerations of how to link these to their experiences in pre-school settings can therefore make an important contribution to practice. This chapter, which draws on studies investigating young children's home experiences with digital technologies, seeks to identify some of the key factors that influence the nature and extent of these experiences. Although digital divides - reflecting classic social divisions of economic status, gender and ethnicity - have been extensively explored in order to understand the causes of inequalities in access to digital technologies, our research concluded that parental attitudes towards these technologies are more influential than economic disadvantage in determining young children's experiences. To explore this issue in greater detail, we have drawn on the concept of prolepsis, a key influence on parents' interactions with their children deriving from the projection of their memories of their own idealised past into the children's futures (Cole, 1996). Parents' assumptions, values and expectations are influenced by their past experiences, enacted in the present, and are then carried by their children into the future as they move from home to formal education. We argue that prolepsis has powerful explanatory force for understanding the kinds of decisions parents make about activities such as the extent to which children engage in technological play.