29 October 2021

Glitches, bugs, and viruses: Digital constructions of childhood during a global pandemic

This event was part of the Digital Child Seminar Series Engaging(socio)materially: Critical literacy, children and media.

The ARC Center of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the Lands where this seminar was recorded and the Lands where presenters and participants work, live and walk. We pay respect to their Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits. We recognise that these Lands have always been places of teaching, research and learning. The Centre acknowledges the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people play within our communities.


Dr Jaye Johnson Thiel, The University of Alabama


Chief Investigator Professor Lisa Kervin

About the seminar

Drawing on public social media archives, this seminar will explore the digital constructions of childhood during coronavirus stay-at-home mandates. Jaye will focus on the sociomaterial shifts documented online by families and caregivers that COVID-19 produced in the play lives of children and how play itself changed during lockdown, adapted despite restrictions, and endured throughout a global pandemic.

Additionally, this seminar will consider how these digital accounts of play contributed to the construction of pandemic childhoods, childhood practices, and ultimately educational policies (summer of play, catch-up summer, etc.). The seminar will conclude by providing suggestions and strategies for play practices in formal and informal spaces of learning and offer insights for policies and initiatives focused on the wellbeing of young children.

About the speaker

Jaye Johnson Thiel is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies at the University of Alabama, USA. As a post-qualitative methodologist, she is deeply committed to issues of social class and educational equity in the context of early childhood. Her scholarship works against deficit discourses about young people, theorizes place-based practices for community research, and explores the production of embodied literacies in the everyday lives of children. She rethinks how educators, families, and communities might work together to develop practices and policies that work to expand pedagogical approaches and understandings of the constructions of childhood. Jaye’s is widely published in many research journals including the American Educational Research Journal, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, and the Journal of Early Childhood Literacies. She also co-edited the book: Posthumanism and Literacy Education: Knowing/Becoming/Doing Literacies as part of the Routledge Expanding Literacies in Education series. Before receiving her PhD, she was a PK-5 teacher and before that she proudly worked in the service industry, including taking orders for bus parts, sweeping hair, and serving food at a local restaurant.