University of Oulu

Karin Murris, Fiona Scott, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Kerryn Dixon, Theresa Giorza, Joanne Peers & Chanique Lawrence (2023) Researching digital inequalities in children’s play with technology in South Africa, Learning, Media and Technology, 48:3, 542-555, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2022.2095570.

Researching digital inequalities in children’s play with technology in South Africa

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Author: Murris, Karin1,2; Scott, Fiona3; Thomsen, Bo Stjerne4;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2School of Education, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
3School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England
4LEGO Foundation, Billund, Denmark
5School of Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
6School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
7School of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-11-06


This paper reports on the South African findings from an international mixed methods study between the LEGO Foundation, Dubit and the Universities of Sheffield (England) and Cape Town (South Africa) on young children’s learning with digital technology. The findings of the study, the first of its kind in South Africa, show the consistency of qualities and experience of play, but also reveal socio-economic, linguistic, ethnic, gender and racial inequalities in the play environments of both groups of 3–11-year-olds. Yet, despite these structural inequalities, the play ecologies of children in resource-constrained environments show their creativity within the digital/non-digital environment. The paper discusses some of the analytical tools used and the geo-political issues raised, and considers these in conjunction with selected data. We conclude that the different socio-cultural conditions and geo-political realities offer new insights about the role global education research can play in helping combat structural inequalities in resource-constrained environments.

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Series: Learning, media and technology
ISSN: 1743-9884
ISSN-E: 1743-9892
ISSN-L: 1743-9884
Issue: 48
Pages: 542 - 555
DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2022.2095570
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: This work was supported by LEGO Foundation.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.