University of Oulu

Tikkanen R, Iivari N and Paananen P (2023) Play—An essential part of children’s lives and their computational empowerment. Front. Educ. 7:1088716. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2022.1088716

Play : an essential part of children’s lives and their computational empowerment

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Author: Tikkanen, Ruut1,2; Iivari, Netta1; Paananen, Pirkko1,2
Organizations: 1INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland
2Teachers, Teaching and Educational Communities (TTEC), Music Education, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-02-22


This article addresses the computational empowerment of children, with an emphasis on the importance of play in realizing it. Although play has been brought up as central for children within numerous disciplines, there is a lack of thorough treatment of the phenomenon in the context of technology design, computational thinking, and computational empowerment. The objective of this research is to open the eyes of adults to see children’s play and improvisation as not only an essential part of children’s life but also an important part of their computational empowerment. We organized numerous participatory design sessions with children (aged 5–6 years), during which play was supported to obtain material for designing a music game. We analyzed the collected data with a framework combining aspects on computational empowerment and play. Our analysis of the sessions showed that play had numerous important functions in the design sessions with the children. Our examination revealed that play is intertwined with computational empowerment in many ways and it supports different aspects of computational empowerment. We recommend that researchers offer various forms of play for children during design sessions to support children’s creativity, narratives, embodiment, and, ultimately, their computational empowerment.

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Series: Frontiers in education
ISSN: 2504-284X
ISSN-E: 2504-284X
ISSN-L: 2504-284X
Volume: 7
Pages: 1 - 14
Article number: 1088716
DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2022.1088716
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
516 Educational sciences
6131 Theatre, dance, music, other performing arts
Funding: Funder of Payment. Academy of Finland/Make-a-Difference project #324685. The project is about computational empowerment of children and the funding contributed to the theoretical basis of this paper. Funder in the background of research (and workshops with children) Usability of Music for Social Inclusion of Children, UMSIC 2008–2011 EU FP7.
EU Grant Number: (224561) UMSIC - Usability of Music for Social Inclusion of Children
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 324685
Detailed Information: 324685 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2023 Tikkanen, Iivari and Paananen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.