Sandbox Summit Explores Digital Kids, Parents, and Play

April 23, 2012 | Educators and scholars, toy and game designers, developers, child psychologists, digital media producers, analysts and innovators of all kinds converged at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last week for the 2012 Sandbox Summit, Going Mobile, Going Global: Tracking the Anywhere/Everywhere State of Play.

Held from April 17-18 and presented by the MIT Education Arcade and Comparative Media Studies, the 2012 Sandbox Summit explored the mobile revolution and its impact on the “tools” and “rules” of play from a wide range of disciplines and viewpoints.

The conference featured speaker presentations and hands-on workshops that explored the developmental and socio-emotional significance of play; the prevalence of mobile technology in the lives of children beginning at a very young age; challenges faced by “digital” parents; and the opportunities and obstacles faced by digital content providers and businesses. [The full list of speakers and workshop leaders can be viewed online.]

A dominant theme threaded throughout the dynamic discussions was the importance of creating digital content that encourages children to express themselves and to give their own input as they play.

“We need to be creating experiences, not products,” said Alex Games, Ph.D., Education Design Director at Microsoft.

“Technology alone isn’t a magic bullet,” added Carla Seal-Wanner, Director of Education and Curriculum, FlickerLab. “There is a need for integrated content. Kids want to have a personal relationship with media and make it their own … they have come to expect that now.”

Russell Hampton, President of Disney Publishing Worldwide, spoke of the significance of offering children a dynamic content world. “Digital content must be interactive and customizable … requiring companies to edit and update their content on a continual basis in order to drive sales.”

Sandbox Summit was launched in January 2008 by Claire Green and Wendy Smolen to address how technology affects the ways kid play, learn, and connect.  The Toy Industry Association (TIA) was proud to sponsor the 2012 Sandbox Summit.