Time spent playing outdoors after school and its relationship with independent mobility: A cross-sectional survey of children aged 10-12 years in Sydney, Australia
Children’s independent mobility influences their outdoor activity
Wen and colleagues examined the amount of time children play outside after school and the relationship between outdoor play and children’s independent mobility. As part of this study, nearly 1400 ten- to twelve-year-old children from schools in Sydney, Australia completed a five-day diary about their time spent playing outdoors and engaged in screen time (watching television/video or playing computer games). In addition, children answered a question about their independent mobility and parents provided family and demographic information. In analyzing the survey data, Wen and colleagues found that 37% of children reported spending less than 30 minutes a day playing outdoors after school, 43% reported spending more than 2 hours a day engaged in screen time, and 48% reported being allowed to mostly walk on their own where they live. With regard to these measures, researchers found some gender differences. For example, significantly more boys than girls spent 2 or more hours a day playing outdoors and engaged in screen time. In addition, boys were significantly more likely to have greater independent mobility as compared to girls. In examining the relationship between outdoor play and children’s independent mobility, Wen and colleagues found a significant association between the two factors after adjusting for a number of other factors. Specifically, researchers found that children who reported being allowed to walk on their own sometimes or mostly were 1.74 and 2.56 times more likely to spend more than 30 minutes a day outdoors after school as compared to children who were never allowed to walk on their own near home. The researchers also found that children of parents who reported their neighborhood as being safe, reported being employed, and reported having an English-speaking home were more likely to have children that reported spending more time outdoors. This study provides important information from a relatively large sample concerning the role of independent mobility in children’s time spent outdoors.
Wen, L. M., Kite, J., Merom, D., Rissel, C., (2009). Time spent playing outdoors after school and its relationship with independent mobility: A cross-sectional survey of children aged 10-12 years in Sydney, Australia. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 6(15)