Digital play in the early years


The project explores current research in the field of digital play to identify gaps and under-theorised areas. The findings will inform the design of a series of empirical studies to address these gaps and to support the advancement of our understandings of children’s digital play in preschool and foundation year across diverse settings.

Project aims

  • review how academic research has described and theorised digital play with young children across diverse settings
  • design new and innovative empirical studies that build on existing research in digital play to explore: the ways in which parents and educators engage with digital play with children; children’s pretend play abilities with the digital; and the ways in which digital play supports children’s language and narrative development
  • support early years educators, parents, community, and curriculum designers to develop a contemporary dynamic theorisation of digital play
  • support ways of embedding digital play in day-to-day teaching and learning

Project design

The project will be completed in two stages: (1) two systematic literature reviews to analyse empirical research to understand how digital play is described and theorised in academic research in the contexts of preschool and early years of schooling; and (2) development of empirical studies to address the gaps in the research in children’s digital play.


Early Childhood Australia, St James Parish Primary School, Sebastopol


January 2021 – December 2026


Professor Louise Paatsch

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The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the lands on where we gather and pay our respects to the Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits of this country.

The Centre recognises that the examples we set in diversity and inclusion will support young children to respect and celebrate differences in all people. We embed diversity, inclusivity and equality into all aspects of the Centre’s activities and welcome all people regardless of race, ethnicity, social background, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and national origin.