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From digiducks to penguin pigs - Watson


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Presented at LILAC 2019

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From digiducks to penguin pigs - Watson

  1. 1. PRESENTED AT THE LILAC 2019 ANNUAL CONFERENCE BY LINDSEY WATSON Senior Lecturer in Early Years FHEA, MA by Research, PGDip, BA Hons From Digiducks to Penguin Pigs: Using stories as a creative methodological approach with research involving young children and their perceptions of online safety.
  2. 2. • To critically examine the use of storytelling as a creative research method within research involving young children • To explore the findings from a study exploring younger children’s perceptions through the use of story • Critically discuss what aspects of stories and storytelling appeared to impact the research Aims of the presentation
  3. 3. Research context Why this research? What does the literature say? • The increasing digitalisation of contemporary UK society sees younger children engaging with technology at a younger age and for longer periods of time (Chaudron, 2015; HM Government, 2017; Mekinc, Smailbegovic and Kokic, 2013) • Discussions have moved away from whether children should engage with digital technologies to how they positively influence children’s lives through effective pedagogy, practice and learning (Scollan and Gallagher, 2017) • Younger children should be viewed as being at the forefront of technology and are recognised as keen and able users (Livingstone and Third, 2017).
  4. 4. Research context Are there more creative ways to genuinely attempt to include children in the production of knowledge? (Lomax, 2012) This suggests that we need to involve younger children in research. Research with children rather than on children (Pinter, Kuchah, and Smith, 2013) Chaudron (2015) suggests we need to know more about younger children’s understanding of the internet This study proposes that more research focused around younger children’s understanding of digital technologies and online safety would be potentially beneficial (Watson, 2017) (Buck, 2012)
  5. 5. Wider aims of the PhD 1. Examine how the home and school environments work together to tackle the issues of child online safety 4. Apply an ecological approach to deepen understanding of younger children’s, parents’ and teachers’ contemporary perceptions of online safety 2. Evaluate differences between younger children’s and adults’ perspectives on online safety, gaining insights into how best to support younger children with online safety 3. Analyse child orientated creative research practices, such as storytelling, in eliciting the views of younger children within research
  6. 6. Why storytelling? • A more relaxed approach to asking children questions (Morgan, Gibbs, Maxwell & Britten, 2002; Shaw, Brady & Davey, 2011). • A pedagogical strategy that children are familiar with, capitalising on children’s desire to interact with others, motivating and engaging to connect with the content (Jug and Vilar, 2015; Miller and Pennycuff, 2008) • Includes generating language focused data suitable for phenomenological interpretation • Aimed at encouraging younger children’s voices as competent co-constructors of knowledge, in which their experiences and opinions about the social reality of their lives are valued (Gray, 2018)
  7. 7. Storytelling • Five children, aged four to five in a reception class in a primary school in the UK • Unstructured nature and social elements involved, allowing children the freedom of expression to articulate their opinions and perceptions (Jug and Vilar, 2015) • A wide range of age appropriate story book about online safety, following the important dilemmas faced by a range of book styles and characters • Sessions lasted between 15-30mins involving 1-9 children
  8. 8. Thinking about storytelling… • Choose a story book? What useful prompts could the book support? Suitability of content? Ethics? Ability to facilitate children’s voices?
  9. 9. What did the storytelling sessions reveal? • Initial findings propose storytelling as an appropriate method for facilitating the views of younger children, helping participants to describe and analyse their experiences • In agreement with Harper (2002), the use of visual representations, such as storybooks, stimulate further parts of the brain than just language alone, adding depth and sincerity • Informality placed less pressure on children to answer questions, encouraging receptive and spontaneous participation (Đurić, Meško, and Popović Ćitić, 2010, cited in, Jug and Vilar, 2015) • Limitations: Children are being led by adult choices made for them, raising questions around how much can be claimed in relation to children’s agency (Gallacher and Gallagher, 2008).
  10. 10. What did the storytelling sessions reveal? Group Dynamics • Shared experience: In contrast to the findings of Clark (1996), children had sufficient expressive language and social interaction skills to effectively manage a group research situation • Gallacher and Gallager (2008) question children’s motives when engaged in research, suggesting participation could be ‘out of habit’, such as following rules and expectations, rather than an agentic decision? • Does the communication rule focused school environment lead to children potentially feeling compelled, required or expected to conform? • Interesting effect of less communication rules affecting different children in different ways
  11. 11. What did the storytelling sessions reveal? Some struggles with separating the real and online world, but pictures really help Children show a varied understanding of what the internet is You Tube is place where they are ‘allowed’ to go Identified comments associated with a range of internet activity Children are aware of rules around online use, but find some abstract concepts difficult Very clear on who to ask for help Good emotional intelligence around cyberbullyingSome books just do not work!
  12. 12. Final thoughts? • The initial analysis process has successfully informed the wider PhD focus • The range and choice of books is being used in an important aspect of the methodological process • Still examining some key aspects, such as familiarity, story content and the balance of the flow • Will the strategy create a more balanced research environment in terms of power and agency? • Positive beginnings around facilitating and listening to children’s voices
  13. 13. References Buck, L. (2012). Digiduck’s Big Decision. London: Childnet International. Chaudron, S. (2015). Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technology: A Qualitative Exploratory Study Across Seven Countries. Ispra: Joint Research centre – European commission. Clark, C, D. (1996). Interviewing Children in Qualitative Research: A Show and Tell. Canadian Journal of Market Research, 15, 74-79. Gallacher, L., and Gallagher, M. (2008). Methodological immaturity in childhood research? Thinking through participatory methods. Childhood, 15(4), 499- 516. 10.1177/0907568208091672 Gray, D. (2018). Doing Research in the Real World, 4th edn. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Harper, D. (2002). Talking about Pictures: A Case for Photo Elicitation. Visual studies, 17(1), 13-26. HM Government. (2017). Internet Safety Strategy – Green paper. Retrieved from
  14. 14. References Jug, T., & Vilar, P. (2015). Focus Group interview through storytelling: Researching pre-school children’s attitudes towards books and reading. Journal of Documentation, 71(6), 1300-1316. Livingstone, S., and Third, A. (2017). Children and young people’s rights in the digital age: An emerging agenda. New Media and Society, 19(5), 657-670. doi:10.1177/1461444816686318 Lomax, H. (2012). Contested voices? Methodological tensions in creative visual research with children. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 15(2), 105–117. Mekinc, J., Smailbegovic, T., and Kokic, A. (2013). Should we be Concerned about Children Using the Internet? – Pilot Study. Innovative Issues and Approaches in Social Sciences, 6(2), 6-20. Miller, S., & Pennycuff, L. (2008). The power of story: Using storytelling to improve literacy learning. Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education, 1(1), 36-43.
  15. 15. References Morgan, M., Gibbs, S., Maxwell, K., and Britten, N. (2002). Hearing children's voices: methodological issues in conducting focus groups with children aged 7- 11 years. Qualitative Research, 2(1), 5-20. Pinter, A., Kuchah, K., & Smith, R. (2013). Researching with Children. ELT Journal, 67(4), 484-487. Scollan, A., and Gallagher, B. (2017). Personal and Socio-emotional Development and Technology. In Kaye, L, Young Children in a Digital Age: Supporting Learning and Development with Technology in Early Years, pp.113-133. Oxon: Routledge. Shaw, C., Brady, L, M., and Davey, C. (2011). Guidelines for Research with Children and Young People. London: National Children’s Bureau Research Centre. Watson, L. (2017). Storytelling and role play to increase younger children’s autonomy within research. What younger children really think and understand about online safety. In Annual Conference of TACTYC: The Association for Professional Development in Early Years, Birmingham. Retrieved from
  16. 16. Lindsey Watson Senior Lecturer in Early Years The University of Huddersfield Email: Telephone: 01484478218 Twitter: @chanlje94