The Mediatization of Children's Play

Main researcher: Stine Liv Johansen

This sub-project seeks to examine children's uses of new, digital media in relation to play in the context of their everyday lives. Play and media are intertwined in numerous ways (Johansen and Karoff, 2009) and new media provide new opportunities for play. In several ways, media and play might always have been interrelated, but changes in the conditions for children's play culture over the last decades have increased the importance of media providing inspiration for play.

Connections between directly mediatized play (play through and with new media) and indirectly mediatized (or media inspired) play will be examined as a crucial point in understanding what mediatized play actually is and what mediatization means in the everyday lives of Danish children. Mediatized play seems to offer different affordances than non-mediatized play, being mobile, easily accessible and carrying game play and inspiration in themselves, which this project will seek to examine further. Therefore, key research questions in this project will be how mediatized play differs from non-mediatized play, what affordances mediatized play offers and also how boys' and girls' play are becoming mediatized in perhaps different ways.

Mediatized play will be analysed from a practice theoretical point of view (Frykman and Gilje, 2003; Reckwitz, 2002) and with specific focus on the affordances of digital play tools like play consoles, social media and mediatized play universes like "Star Wars" or  "soccer" (Johansen and Karoff, 2010). This is based on an approach to children's play and play culture in which materialities and toys - often media related - are seen as prerequisites for participation, and continuously ascribed meaning through practices of interpretive reproduction.

The project will evolve around intensive fieldwork among children aged 7 to 10 and focus on their uses and practices with media and media related play in different everyday life settings, such as school, after-school centres, organised activities and private homes. By following the same children through different organisational and institutional spheres, the aim is to be able to describe and analyse how mediatized play evolves through different social and cultural setting as well as through a range of different media platforms.


Frykman, Jonas & Gilje, Niels (2003). Being There: New Perspectives on Phenomenology and the Analysis of Culture. Sweden: Academic Press.

Johansen, Stine Liv & Karoff, Helle (2009). "Materiality, Body and Practice". Paper presented at IDC 2009, Italy.

Johansen, Stine Liv & Karoff, Helle (2010). What is Play Media? Unpubl.

Reckwitz, Andreas (2002). "Toward a Theory of Social Practices". European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 243-263.