Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From digiducks to Penguin Pigs: using stories as a creative methodological approach with research involving young children #lilac19

This is Pam McKinney live-blogging from the LILAC conference. Lindsay Watson a senior lecturer in early years education from university of Huddersfield (@Lje1994) is presenting her doctoral research into storytelling as a research method with young children. It’s impossible to interview or survey young children, so you need a more fun and creative way to find out what they think. Online safety for children is a key issue, as children engage younger and younger and for longer amounts of time with devices such as iPads that are internet enabled. We have moved away from restricting access towards positively influencing children’s engagement, and recognise them as keen and able users. So we need to research children’s understanding of the internet, and this involves doing research WITH rather than ON children and to become co-constructors of knowledge.

The overall aim of the PhD research was to examine how to tackle issues of online child safety, and to analyse child oriented creative research practices such as storytelling in eliciting the views of younger children within research, and to look at issues of consent, assent and dissent and how children make choices in the research space.

Children are familiar with storytelling and it capitalises their desire to interact and connect with the content. It can encourage younger children’s voices, and is a much more relaxed experience for them. Nine children aged 4-5 took part in the research, who were based in one primary school in the UK. The children were read a wide range of age appropriate story books about online safety, following important dilemmas. Children were free to express their opinions and perceptions. Sessions  lasted 15-30 minutes and had between 1 and 9 children taking part.

In the next part of the session delegates were invited to read a selection of books and note down their thoughts on the style, story and how suitable we thought the books would be for young children. We thought some of the books were quite unsuitable for the age group, and contained ideas and metaphors that might not be appropriate. Some books present a negative view of children and their engagement with technology, but some were really successful at stimulating conversation with children about topics such as online safety and privacy. Some books covered activities that were a little advanced for 4-5 year olds but were useful for preparing children for activities they would do when a little bit older.

Initial findings reveal that storytelling is a great way to engage children, but the researcher has control about the choice of book and can guide the interactions.

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