Children's digital literacy practices in unequal South African settings

Polo Lemphane, Mastin Prinsloo
  • Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, May 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2014.908894

What is it about?

Children's early digital literacy practices

Why is it important?

It shows how digital media operate as placed resources, with different affordances for children from contrasting socio-economic, linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds.


Mastin Prinsloo

The research shows that social class differences among African children take on globalized cultural dimensions by way of language practices and online media practices, which sharpen differences between middle-class children and poorer children. The children of professionals absorbed the cultural capital that English-language resources, digital hardware, and unlimited broadband Internet connectivity in their home afforded them by way of connections to global middle-class cultural flows. In contrast, the children of unemployed parents living in a shack settlement outside Cape Town played with the Internet-connected cell phones of their parents, but such play did not provide any access to more global resources of information and entertainment— partly because the children did not share the sociocultural backgrounds or linguistic resources that are typically taken for granted on websites designed for children and partly because the parents saw little point in allowing their children free access to play with digital resources.

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The following have contributed to this page: Mastin Prinsloo