Digital play: A new classification

Lydia Plowman, Jackie Marsh (Lead Author), Dylan Yamada-Rice, Julia Bishop, Fiona Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper draws on an ESRC-funded study of play and creativity in preschool-aged children’s use of apps in the UK. The main objectives of the study were to collect information about access to and use of apps in the home, establish the most popular apps, and identify the features of those apps that are successful in promoting play and creativity. A mixed-method approach was used to collect data, including video filming of children using the most popular apps. In identifying play types that emerged in the analysis of data, the team drew on Hughes’ (2002) taxonomy, which outlines sixteen play types. This taxonomy was reviewed and adapted to analyse data from the project relating to digital play. Through this process, an additional type of play, trangressive play, was identified and added to the taxonomy. The paper outlines the implications of the revised taxonomy for future studies of play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Years
Issue number3
Early online date23 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016


  • digital play
  • technology and play
  • taxonomy of play


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