Children's outdoor play: exploring parental concerns about children's safety and the changing nature of childhood

Gill Valentine, John H. McKendrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper uses the evidence of research conducted in North-West England to explore the extent to which parents consider that there are adequate public facilities and play opportunities in their neighbourhoods for their children; and it considers whether children's experiences of outdoor play is changing, by comparing contemporary children's play with both previous academic studies of children's independent use of space and with parents' accounts of their own childhoods. The findings presented suggest that the vast majority of parents are dissatisfied with the public provision of play facilities in their neighbourhood. Temporal and spatial changes also appear to have occurred in patterns of children's outdoor play over the last three decades. Fewer children are playing outdoors and the location of most outdoor play is now closed centred on the home rather than the street. There appears to be no link between play patterns and play provision; children are no more likely to play outdoors, or play further away from home if there are adequate opportunities provided within their neighbourhood. Rather, the evidence of this paper is that the most significant influence on children's access to independent play is not the level of public provision of play facilities but parental anxieties about children's safety and the changing nature of childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
JournalGeoforum
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 1997

Keywords

  • children's geographies
  • play
  • parental concerns
  • neighbourhood
  • safety

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