Digital Playgrounds vs. Virtual Playpens in Early Childhood

Marina Umaschi Bers

in Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Youth Development

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199757022
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933037 | DOI:
Digital Playgrounds vs. Virtual Playpens in Early Childhood

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This chapter explores the metaphor of the playground as an open space in which young children can play safely on their own or with peers, without constant supervision and adult engagement. It contrasts the playground experience with the metaphor of the playpen as a confined space that offers constrained choices and limited space for experimentation. It examines how both playgrounds and playpens are designed to meet and promote developmental milestones specific to the pre-school years. Building on this metaphor, the chapter explores the available programs and software for young children aged 2-5 through the lens of designed play spaces. Digital playgrounds offer open exploration and allow children to create, rather than consume. In these technological spaces, children can use their imaginations and learn new skills, taking risks that positively impact their development.

Keywords: Constructionism; imagination; play; “edutainment,” autonomy; robotics; programming; developmentally appropriate practice; Erikson; early childhood

Chapter.  6867 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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