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Why do children not play in nearby nature? Results from a Norwegian survey

Summary


Parents identified social factors related to time pressures as a greater barrier for children’s engagement with nearby nature than accessibility and attributes in the physical landscape.

An online survey was used to identify barriers to children’s contact with nature in Norway.
Over 3000 parents of children aged 6 – 12 years responded to this survey. The respondents were from all 19 counties in Norway and were fairly representative of the general population. Respondents used a five-point Likert scale to evaluate 19 different barrier statements about their children using nearby nature. These barrier statements were based on four topics identified from the literature as main barriers for children’s engagement with nature: access to nature; risk and safety; adult’s supervision and time use; and time pressure in children’s leisure time. The survey also included an open-ended question soliciting parents’ ideas about measures they believed important for getting their child to spend more time in nature.

Analysis of the data indicated that parents felt the main barrier to their child spending more time in nature was lack of time due to other leisure activities and time spent on homework. Factors identified as being not as important included distance to nature spaces, unsafe nature spaces, quality of nature spaces, lack of equipment, and poor motor skills.

Data analysis also examined the effects of demographic and socio-economic factors for each of the 19 barrier statements. Barriers to the use of nature spaces were considerably higher for children living in urban areas than for those living in less populated areas. There were significant differences on some of the statements in terms of gender, with the barriers being higher for boys than for girls. There were also some significant differences in relation to age with higher barriers for the 10-12 year old age class than the 6-9 age class. One exception was the concern about traffic, which was considered a higher barrier for the younger age class. Parent’s income didn’t seem to make much of a difference on how parents perceived barriers for their children’s engagement with nearby nature. According to the authors, a key result from this study is that social factors related to time pressures are considered more of a barrier for children’s engagement with nearby nature than such factors as accessibility and attributes in the physical landscape.

Citation

Skar, M., Wold, L.C., Gundersen, V., O’Brien, L., (2016). Why do children not play in nearby nature? Results from a Norwegian survey. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning

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