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The Internet of Toys - ecologies across home and nursery and the entanglement of digital and non-digital play

Arnott, Lorna and Palaiologou, Ioanna and Gray, Colette (2018) The Internet of Toys - ecologies across home and nursery and the entanglement of digital and non-digital play. In: European Early Childhood Educational Research Association Conference, 2018-08-28 - 2018-08-31.

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This paper explores children’s everyday ecologies with internet-connected toys, to present a rich overview of children’s play practices in everyday contexts. It extends a broad literature base about the Internet of Toys (IoToys) (Mascheroni and Holloway, 2017), technologies in early childhood (Kurcikova, 2017, Marsh et al, 2016, Nutall et al, 2015), digital play conceptualisations, (Danby et al, 2017, Edwards and Bird, 2017, Marsh 2017, Arnott, 2016), and digital pedagogies (Fleer, 2017). The paper is underpinned by a social — “ecological conceptualisation of children’s play (Arnott, Palaiologou and Gray, In Press) and Rogoff’s (2008) discussion of apprenticeship. This interpretivist and qualitative project, employed twelve empirical case studies of children’s digital lives across four countries (England, Scotland, N. Ireland and Greece). Data were collected from 25 children via Interviews with parents, Interviews with keyworkers, Participant observations of children's play with the IoToy in childcare, Multimedia messages submitted by parents, and Photo Voice conversations with children, based on the multimedia data presented by parents and observation photos. The EECERA Ethical Code of Practice (2015) was followed and approval was granted by the University Ethics Committees and relevant local Authorities. The standard consents were sought. The findings demonstrate that IoToys, when appropriately framed and scaffolded by adults, provide opportunities for empowered digital spaces (Craft, 2013), with synergy across digital and non-digital play and across home and education. Drawing on the social-ecologies conceptualisation suggests that that early childhood education should consider creating digital spaces that afford synergies between the digital/non-digital and home/education when integrating connected toys.