A Framework for Children’s Participatory Practices in Virtual Worlds

Terhi Tuukkanen, Ahmer Iqbal, Marja Kankaanranta

Abstract


In recent years, participation of children in virtual worlds has grown and children are also the largest number of users of virtual worlds (KZero, 2009a). This growth in participation in virtual worlds has brought out discussion about their effects on children’s lives. In this article, we consider opportunities of virtual worlds to engage and educate children about their civic life. The aim of this paper is to establish a framework for participation in virtual worlds and to test the framework by looking at current participatory practices in virtual worlds. In this paper we present a framework for children’s participation in virtual worlds which is based on research review. Our framework sees children in virtual worlds as social actors, learners of civic participation and as citizens. Results of a survey conducted to find the participatory practices of children in virtual worlds are also presented. The results indicate that children are highly interested in socializing with friends and engaging in avatar related activities. It was also found that traditional forms of civic participation are not very common in virtual worlds. Thus, there is a need to promote traditional forms of civic participation and at the same time look at new opportunities presented by virtual worlds for civic participation.

Keywords


virtual worlds; virtual participation; civic participation; civic education; children’s participation

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org