The media ecology of play: A preliminary probe of childhood play in the digital age | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



In this article, the authors argue that children today, because of the digital environment in which they are growing up, have much less opportunity to engage in forms of play that require direct face-to-face communication. Building upon some suggestions made by Neil Postman, the authors probe the media ecology of play and how it has been fundamentally reconfigured in the digital age. What does digital technology do and undo to the traditional experience of childhood play? How do traditional oral-based forms of play differ from play that is digitally mediated? What are some of the ideas embedded in the digital mediation of play that need to be teased out and more carefully considered? Finally, reflecting on their own work with children over the past four decades, the authors offer a pragmatic response that both parallels the emphasis placed by John Huizinga in his book on the primacy of play in the evolution of culture and, at the same time, strongly reflects the view advocated by Neil Postman in his book of creating a ‘thermostatic mechanism’ that would counterbalance the dominant presence of electronic media in the lives of children.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): childhood; digital revolution; media ecology; Neil Postman; play; technology
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