Young children, digital media and smart toys: how perceptions shape adoption and domestication

Rita Brito, Patrícia Dias*, Gabriela Oliveira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary homes are filled with digital technologies, and children are exposed to them almost since birth, initiating their first digital experiences at very early ages (Chaudron et al., Young children (0–8)). This trend is expected to become stronger, as our future has been envisioned around the concept of the IoT (Internet of Things), and the first smart toys are arriving at the homes of digitally savvy families. This study focuses on the digital practices of young children, looking particularly at smart toys, aiming to: a) explore how smart toys are being adopted by families, considering the perceptions of children and parents about drivers and barriers to adoption; and b) understand the domestication of smart toys. Our research is exploratory and builds on the theoretical framework, methodological protocols and ethical guidelines of the international projects “Young Children (0–8) and Digital Technologies” (Chaudron et al., Chaudron et al., Young children (0–8); Dias and Brito, 2016, 2017, Crianças (0 a 8 anos)) and “Media and Social Discourses around Young Children and IoToys” (Mascheroni & Holloway, 2017). Our methodology is qualitative, based on visits to families including interviews with children and parents and participant observation. We selected a purposive sample of 21 medium- or high-income and digitally savvy families in Portugal. Concerning drivers and barriers for adoption, most children identify several smart toys and express interest in having them. Parents are motivated by the amount of satisfaction that the toy will afford the children and the added-value in terms of learning or developing skills. However, most parents prefer mechanical toys, sports or outdoors activities and the high price is an obstacle. Concerning domestication, smart toys are still scarce in homes and perceived as novelty, thus being in a very early stage of domestication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-820
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


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  • hAPPy kids

    Dias, P. & Brito, R.


    Project: Research


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