Isabel Fróes (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)

Young Children’s Play Practices with Digital Tablets

ISBN: 978-1-78756-706-1, eISBN: 978-1-78756-705-4

Publication date: 29 July 2019


Fróes, I. (2019), "Prelims", Young Children’s Play Practices with Digital Tablets, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xix.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © Isabel Fróes, 2019


Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence (CC BY 4.0). Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this book (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

Half Title Page


Title Page


Playful Literacy



Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2019

Copyright © Isabel Fróes, 2019

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence (CC BY 4.0).

Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this book (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-78756-706-1 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-78756-705-4 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-78756-707-8 (Epub)

An electronic version of this book is freely available, thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched. KU is a collaborative initiative designed to make high quality books Open Access for the public good. More information about the initiative and links to the Open Access version can be found at

List of Images

Chapter 4
Image 4.1. Hand Typology, Hovering - Moving the Hands or Just One Finger above the Interface. 55
Image 4.2. Hand Typology, Tapping - Fast Touch with One Finger (or By Chance with an Arm or Another Hand). 55
Image 4.3. Hand Typology, Swiping - While Touching, Moving One Finger across a Small Area of the Screen. 56
Image 4.4. Hand Typology, Dragging - Tap and, Without Letting Go of the Contact Interface, Move the Finger/Hand across the Screen. 56
Image 4.5. Hand Typology, Continuous Tapping - A Series of Short Consecutively Taps. 57
Image 4.6. Hand Typology, Force Tapping - Tapping with Pressure to Try to Force an Icon to Respond. 57
Image 4.7. Hand Typology, Long Tapping - Tapping for a Bit Longer than a Short Tap (Observed When Either Trying to Choose Something for the Second Time or Trying a Non-interactive Symbol). 58
Image 4.8. Hand Typology, Tilting - Moving the Device Sideways, Vertically or Horizontally. 58
Image 4.9. Hand Typology, Divergent Dragging - Moving Two Fingers in Opposite Directions to Zoom In. 59
Image 4.10. Hand Typology, Convergent Dragging - Moving Two Fingers towards Each Other to Zoom Out or Move an Object. 59
Image 4.11. Hand Typology, Simultaneous Holding - Index and Thumb Are Used to Try to Rotate an Object on the Interface. 60
Image 4.12. Hand Typology, Reach - Pointing Closely as in Tapping or ‘Touching’ an Icon. 61

List of Figures

Chapter 4
Figure 4.1. Child Encountering a Locked Item. 47
Figure 4.2. Force-tapping on Locked Images. 62
Figure 4.3. Tapping on Character (Trying to Interact) while Animation Is Running. 63
Figure 4.4. Trying to Interact with the Loading Bar. 64
Chapter 5
Figure 5.1. Holding the Bottle to Pour Liquid in the Bowl. 81
Figure 5.2. Making Ice Cream for People. In This Case a Giraffe, and the Child Creates an Ice Cream based on Own Taste (Not the One Requested by the Giraffe). 84
Figure 5.3. Playing with the Vehicle Possibilities. 89
Figure 5.4. Creating Patterns on a Piece of Clothing. 91
Figure 5.5. (a) and (b) Playing with the Map (Not the Character) in an App. 94

List of Tables

Chapter 3
Table 3.1. Media Literacy Framework (Buckingham, 2006) × Digital Literacy’s Dimensions (Sefton-Green et al., 2016). 24
Chapter 4
Table 4.1. Informed Considerations that Emerged from the Pilot Study. 49
Table 4.2. Summary of Coding Process. 65

About the Author

Isabel Fróes is currently a Postdoc at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from PUC Rio and a Master’s degree from ITP at New York University. Her research taps into the values and uses of newly developed technologies, investigating how they affect ways in which new concepts and activities are socially and culturally developed. Her PhD research combined her psychology and design background exploring how young children’s play practices with digital devices foster novel ways of communication and learning.


You are about to begin a journey that explores how young children defy and discover digital universes (tablets) through their magic wands (hands). Since my research interest involves interdisciplinary fields, it also involves challenges. The largest is that no matter how much I write, I feel there will always be more fields and angles to cover. However, I could not consider addressing a study in any other way, as my background is interdisciplinary. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications. My master’s focused not only on learning technological skills, such as programming and electronics, but also on approaching technology reflectively and critically. We were encouraged to think of technology as a verb, as suggested by the head of our programme at the time, Ms Red Burns.

I remained on a learning path by working in different countries and organisations with a variety of foci (interaction and service design, teaching, programming, etc.), both within industry and academia. Consequently, during the three years of my PhD studies, my educational and professional background experience converged to form my topic of choice. At the same time, by applying an interdisciplinary lens to my process, I have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to work with fields that I find highly motivating, and that build on my personal experience of observing young children and their digital interactions. It was partly this experience that informed the what and why that fuelled this book.

Regarding reading this book, I would like you to approach it as a piece of music. I explore a repertoire of studies by eminent researchers; their notes and perspectives harmonise and contrast with my own soloist moments, which originated during my writing process. All notes lead back to the initial train of thought, however, adding vital layers to the final composition.

For my research, I travelled to Japan. It was an eye-opening experience that expanded my horizons and shook my convictions. Despite having studied Japanese earlier in my life and knowing aspects of Japanese culture through a variety of media, books, films, origami, etc., the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, though only for three months, proved one of the most significant learning curves of my life. I entered Japan with one set of lenses and I came back with very different ones.

The experience I gained there proved highly valuable for my PhD research and consequently, this book. Not only from the perspective of the data collected, but also for prompting me to think of aspects that were not necessarily initially visible in digital practices. For example, the role of iconography and symbols in a culture that is then confronted with western designs. In other words, how would tablets look if their interfaces had been developed in Japan? Probably you would swipe vertically and browse right to left through pages. More tangible differences included those related to broader use of Roman rather than Japanese characters in young children’s everyday life.

Japan proved to be the most playful and efficient country I have ever encountered. I would therefore like this book to reflect an element of the same playfulness by bringing you a different set of perspectives when reading about this journey of mine. I hope it makes you curious about the connection between play and efficiency, how much one rests on the other, and, if there is such a relationship, how children’s play practices and their magic wands can lead the way to uncover this mystery.


The author had no affiliation whatsoever with any of the App production companies either before or after her research. A total of 60 apps in total were chosen and downloaded based on the age category, their descriptions and popularity ranking on the Android and Apple store (Google Play and App store). The types of apps varied from puzzle, game, entertainment, educational and family categories, which were highly rated (four to five stars) however with download rates lower than 500,000 downloads at the time of the download (February 2014 in Denmark).


I very much feel my achievements have been reached and supported by the wonderful people around my life. As if possible I would like to thank each and every person who brought me here with a text of its own. In order of life appearance, I thank you by trying to use a few words or sentences to sum it up.

Adyr and Renato: Passion, emotion, dream and values. Both of you engaged with life having these words as your motto, I just followed them.

Andreas: Love, warmth, support, steadiness, calm. You believed in making a 4th of July a forever after. I am forever grateful for your belief.

Victoria and Arthur: Love, love, fun, challenges, giants. Through your eyes I am always learning – you bring wonders to my world.

My dear friends and family: Thank you all for giving me so much! You know who you are! You have been my safety net and my life would never be the same without you.

To my mentors who have been a true force and inspiration: Ana Nicolaci, Red Burns, Marianne Petit, Fred Ritchin, Tom Igoe, Camille Utterback, my world became larger, wiser and far more fun through your teaching.

To my thesis advisor, Susana Tosca: Patient, fun, thorough, devoted. It has been an immense pleasure to work this closely. A great exchange and learning curve all the way.

Masahiko Inami Sensei and Keiko Okawa Sensei: Thank you for opening the doors of Keio University and for taking me in as part of the group. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

The pupils, faculty, staff and parents of the three institutions where I carried out my observations: Thank you very, very much for your time, interest and collaboration. I would not have gotten here without your kindness and support.

The educational institutions with which I have been affiliated throughout the years: Thank you for giving me support, a space to think, learn and expand my knowledge with the bonus of meeting wonderful colleagues and mentors.

True learning is a life experience that happens through a powerful exchange between curious and engaged learners, so I would like to thank those students who were a part of mine.