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Growing up in Technoculture: The ontological and perceptual significance of media in the lives of infants and toddlers

Martin-Lynch, Pamela (2014) Growing up in Technoculture: The ontological and perceptual significance of media in the lives of infants and toddlers. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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It is well documented that young children understand media differently to older children and adults, yet despite years of debate surrounding the psycho-social impact that media may have on children and youth, very little remains known about how they intercede into infants’ and toddlers’ lived experiences.

We cannot assume that media have no significance in the lives of infants and toddlers simply because they may not understand the content. The particularities of very young children’s experiences of, engagement with and understanding of media cannot be expected to necessarily relate solely, or even primarily, to the media content. As an alternative this thesis focuses on the relations between very young children and media in terms of their material and corporeal effects and in this respect how media interfaces, as part of infants’ and toddlers’ environments literally mediate very young children’s possibilities for perception and action within 21st century media saturated environments.

By focusing on children from birth to three years of age and their contingent material, physical environments, this thesis presents a chronology of child-technology relations as mediated relations which is necessary to understand the effect of media (conventionally understood) on their lived experience. In adopting an interdisciplinary ecological approach which relies on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology (1962), Donald W. Winnicott’s psychoanalysis (1957, 1960) and Don Ihde’s post-phenomenology (1995), this thesis revolves around four central concepts: embodiment, transitional objects, holding spaces and both James Gibson’s (1982) and Donald Norman’s (1990) affordances to offer a complex understanding of the significance of media as material objects in the lives of infants and toddlers.

In doing so, it argues that media effect infants and toddlers in ways that are specific to the media themselves, the particular time and place in which they emerge and are used, and to babies’ and toddlers’ situatedness and capacity to act within the world.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Richardson, Ingrid
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