London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Virtual worlds as children's participatory media: The opportunities and risks of participation

Author(s) Tuukkanen,T., Iqbal, A. & Kankaanranta, M.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
The use of virtual worlds, computer-simulated two- or three-dimensional communities, has increased exponentially among children in recent years. Virtual worlds inspire children to create and share contents, express themselves and to take a role of active participants in the Internet. Thus far, the potential of virtual worlds for participation and civic engagement has not been extensively studied from the child’s viewpoint. In this paper, we explore the opportunities and risks of virtual worlds for children's participation. In particular, we examine Finnish children's views on the differences between virtual worlds and the ‘real’ world and the benefits and harms of using virtual worlds. The data consists of group interviews conducted at two Finnish schools to explore children’s experiences and views. Altogether 21 children aged 11-15 were interviewed. Children reported about four opportunities and two risks in virtual worlds. Virtual worlds provide children an arena for learning, spending time, interacting with other people and making new friends, for example. Furthermore, using virtual worlds may help children to overcome the limitations of ‘real’ life. On the other hand, this freedom also has its negative side. In virtual worlds, there are people who misbehave and disrupt other users. There is also a risk of overuse. Keywords: children, participation, citizenship, virtual worlds

Back to search results


   Page last updated 09 March 2011