Exploring the affordances of smart toys and connected play in practice

Giovanna Mascheroni, Liam Berriman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


What does children’s play look like in the smart toy era? What conceptual frameworks help make sense of the changing practices of children’s connected play worlds? Responding to these questions, this article re-frames discussions about children’s smart toy play within wider theoretical debates about the affordances of new digital materialities. To understand recent transformations of children’s play practices, we propose it is necessary to think of toys as increasingly media-like in their affordances and as connected to wider digital material ecosystems. To demonstrate the potential of this conceptual approach, we explore illustrative examples of two popular smart ‘care toys’. Our analysis identifies three examples of affordances that smart care toys share with other forms of mobile and robotic media: liveliness, affective stickiness and portability. We argue that locating discussions of smart toys within wider conceptual debates about digital materialities can provide new insights into the changing landscape of children’s play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-814
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • affordances
  • children
  • connected play
  • digital materialities
  • smart toys


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