Sustaining Children's Engagement in Active Play Using Novel Technologies

Project dates: 15/02/2021 - 15/02/2024


Physically active play is essential in early childhood. Yet, there are concerns for the physical activity levels of young children aged 3 to 5. These concerns are typically associated with young children’s engagement with digital technologies. Popular media often perpetuates the narrative that many young children stay indoors using digital technologies rather than playing outside. However, it is important to consider how young children interact and engage with digital technologies.



To mitigate concerns for digital technologies, this research project explores how Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI) systems can engage children in developmentally appropriate active play both indoors and outdoors. TEIs have shown promise to facilitate new opportunities for active play, although few studies investigate how these systems engage children and sustain their engagement in active play long-term. Therefore, we ask the question, how can TEIs be better designed to effectively engage young children in active play?



Tarlinton, Dannielle, Wang, Yuehao, Knight, Linda, & Blackler, Alethea. (2022). Identifying Factors of Young Children’s Engagement in Active Play to Inform the Design of TEIs. In Press. OzCHI ’22.

Wang, Yuehao, Vickery, Nicole E M, Tarlinton, Dannielle, Ploderer, Bernd, Knight, Linda, Blackler, Alethea, & Wyeth, Peta. (2022) Exploring the Affordances of Digital Toys for Young Children’s Active Play. In Press. OzCHI ‘22.

Vickery, Nicole, Tarlinton, Dannielle, Wang, Yuehao, & Blackler, Alethea. (2022). The Digital Children of the COVID-19 Pandemic : The Potential of Tangible Technology to Address the Barriers to Children’s Active Play caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. In Tangible Interaction for Well-being – Workshop, 2022-05-01 – 2022-05-01, New Orleans, United States. (Unpublished)

Vickery, Nicole, Tarlinton, Dannielle, Wang, Yuehao, & Blackler, Alethea. (2022). Digital toys as tangible, embodied, embedded interactions. In Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., & Lloyd, P. (Eds.) Proceedings of DRS2022: Bilbao. Design Research Society, United Kingdom.

Vickery, Nicole, Wang, Yuehao, Tarlinton, Dannielle, Blackler, Alethea, Ploderer, Bernd, Wyeth, Peta, & Knight, Linda. (2021). Embodied Interaction Design for Active Play with Young Children: A Scoping Review. In Buchanan, George, Davis, Hilary, Al Mahmud, Abdullah, Sarsenbayeva, Zhanna, Soro, Alessandro, Munoz, Diego, et al. (Eds.) OzCHI ’21: Proceedings of the 33rd Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), New York, NY, 293–306.


Chief Investigator

Dannielle Tarlinton


Principal Supervisor: Prof. Thea Blackler
External Supervisor: A/Prof. Linda Knight
Associate Supervisor: Dr. Nicole Vickery


This HDR project is funded as part of the broader research project ‘I want to Move it, Move it: Framing and Enabling Children’s Active Play using Novel Technologies‘ funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project ( DP200100723).