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Title: Designing technology to promote play between parents and their infant children
Authors: Marshall, Kevin
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Parents’ interaction and engagement with young children is fundamental to their healthy development. Children whose parents interact and communicate more frequently exhibit greater school readiness, better language ability, higher grades, and the ability to make friends, guarding against negative outcomes across the lifespan, such as reduced employment prospects and lower mental health. While HCI research has recently begun to address important challenges in parent-child communication, these have focused predominantly on understanding how parents use technology while parenting. However, designing technologybased interventions to support communication practices in parenting young children is largely under-explored. The research presented in this thesis investigates how technology can promote positive interaction between parents and their infant children, specifically those younger than three years old. This time of childhood is fundamental to healthy development as children progressively construct their understanding and knowledge of the world through their coordination of physical interaction with objects and their sensory experiences during this time. Play is especially crucial in this regard, being the primary method of communication between parent and child. Using three case studies, the thesis describes how I worked collaboratively with play specialists and parents to gain a rich understanding of parents’ current play practices with their children, the challenges they face when seeking to engage with their children, and the barriers to this engagement; my approach to engaging parents in to a co-creative process to build an online resource to support their needs around play; and how the design of the technology builds on how parents currently play with their children, the frenetic nature of being a parent, and the need to leverage opportunities to play as they arise rather than pre-planned play experiences. This research makes four contributions. It argues for parent-infant play to be a potentially important and viable area of research in the nascent HCI literature on parenthood. It provides a rich and detailed account of how parents’ play with their children, highlighting novel uses of technology among numerous examples of communicative play. However, it also illustrates that many parents find it difficult to play with their children. Finally, it provides rich insights in to the complexities and challenges of conducting design research with parents of infant children and the importance of engaging organisations in such long-term design engagements.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Computing Science

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