A new piece of research into toys and play habits and exploring the ‘digital divide’ by Fundamentally Children’s Dr Amanda Gummer and Anna Taylor, has been published by the International Toy Research Association.
The paper, Connected Grandparents: Are Smart Toys the Future of Intergenerational Play? combines qualitative and quantitative research with grandparents aged 55 to 85, and explores the reported ‘digital divide’ as children are introduced to, and learn how to use, technology from a young age.
The findings of the research showed that overall grandparents had neutral, not negative attitudes towards technology, digital games, and smart toys. However, the two generations reported that they rarely played digital games together, as they had little access to multiplayer games which were suitable for both ages and skill levels.
During the research, it was found that the children were more likely to put themselves in charge of the digital, screen-based element of the games, while the grandparents preferred the physical aspect (animal themed building blocks).
The older participants reported that they liked the sensory aspect of the physical toys, which couldn’t be gained from a screen, along with the increased social interactivity of the game.
Anna Taylor, researcher, Fundamentally Children, commented: “The Connected Grandparents research threw up some really interesting results in how intergenerational play can work in a connected, digital era. By bringing together a digital feature with a physical aspect, grandparents and their grandchildren could come together with varying levels of digital literacy to play.
“Intergenerational play is a really important part of children’s social and emotional development and we’ll be looking to follow this piece of research up by looking at how games can be designed to suit players with different abilities, as well as what the opportunities are for toy companies to create opportunities for long distance play between the two generations through smart toys.”
The full report can be read online here.
The research findings will be presented at the Children’s Media Conference on July 3 and 4 as Gaming Grannies: Connecting grandparents and grandchildren through digital games.