Juan Rubio: The Future of Digital Play

For the fourth part of this series, we asked experts to focus their predictions on digital play by answering the question, “How will the way children play with digital media change in the coming months and/or years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?”

Virtual library spaces to connect children

Juan Rubio is the Digital Media and Learning Program Manager at The Seattle Public Library.

Before COVID-19, informal learning spaces such as libraries provided children with afterschool programs that gave them in-person access not only to technology, but also to a community with whom they could explore, learn, and play—a community that, during the pandemic, they no longer have. We are learning now we must go further than that.

With creative planning, libraries can provide children with remote opportunities to play, build, experiment, and learn together with and through digital media and that make them feel part of a community while they are at home. Such remote forms of digital play should involve activities that are interactive, ask them to contribute, and are a place where they feel heard. Providing children with a virtual place to experiment and test ideas gives them a sense of purpose, and lets them recognize the library as a place where they can explore and pursue their interests.

Children form strong bonds with their peers in afterschool programs, yet staying at home because of COVID-19 has removed that opportunity. When we ask them to create, play, and explore with others virtually, we can connect them once again. We should offer these programs on a regular basis, so they get to know each other and to create a community online. Informal learning spaces have always been vital, and so we must continue creating these spaces online for children to play and come together as a community.


See more posts in this series:

Voices on the Future of Childhood

J. Alison Bryant | Andrew Przybylski | Jesse Schell | Jordan Shapiro
Juan Rubio | Katie Salen Tekinbaş | Mitchel Resnick | Tami Bhaumik

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