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Techniques of the tactile body: a cultural phenomenology of toddlers and mobile touchscreens


RESULTADO DE INVESTIGACIÓN: This research was supported through funding from an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE130100735).



A key dimension of young children’s mobile media engagement and play centres on their embodied relations, and how these are shaped with and through the interfaces, materiality and mobility of haptic media. This article explores these embodied dimensions of young children’s mobile media use, drawing on research from (1) ethnographic observation of young children’s play practices in family homes, (2) analysis of videos of young children’s tactile media interaction shared on YouTube and (3) analysis of user interface (UI) and mobile app developer literature, such as the ‘Event Handling Guide for iOS’, which encodes touchscreen interaction through the design constraints and possibilities of gesture input techniques. Taking as its starting point Marcel Mauss’ famous reflection on body techniques, this article draws on past and present research on mobile technologies, tactility and everyday life, to explore what might be involved in developing a ‘cultural phenomenology’ of mobile touchscreens. This research and analysis reveals the emergence of what we term a haptic habitus or cultivation of embodied dispositions for touchscreen conduct and competence.

Keywords App development, cultural phenomenology, haptic habitus, haptic sense, iPad Baby, mobile devices, toddlers, touchscreens

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