Current social situation has caused qualitative changes in the play activity of preschoolers: contemporary children spend less time on free play, while developed forms of role play are found rather rarely. These trends are associated with the global processes of informatization and digitalization. Many scholars argue that a new cultural and historical type of childhood - "digital childhood" - has emerged recently.
The research focuses on identifying specific traits of play activity in children with high level of screen time. Research methods include "Method of diagnostics of role-playing games" by E.O. Smirnova, I.A. Ryabkova and "Diagnostics of the development of playing skills" by R.R. Kalinina, as well as a questionnaire, elaborated by the authors to evaluate different aspects of children’s interaction with digital content. The empirical study was conducted from December 2019 to January 2021. 13 children between 4 and 6 years of age participated in the longitudinal study. The analysis of the collected data showed that the level of computer activity is associated with such characteristics of play activity assubject substitution; interaction, organizing the game; plot elaboration; role behavior; play actions; the use of attributes and implementation of rules. The more time the child spends interacting with gadgets, the lower are the indicated characteristics of play.
The results of the study are interesting for psychologists, educators, and parents, and may be used particularly in elaborating recommendations concerning preschoolers’ interaction with digital media.