The Girls' Play Project

Exploring the gender balance of play space use

Why can’t kids go out and play? — June 27, 2019

Why can’t kids go out and play?

This week’s infographic draws on a synthesised literature review I produced as part of a study conducted by Patricia Austin, one of my University of Auckland lecturers, in December 2017. Tricia’s study was part of the National Science Challenge (‘NSC11’) ‘Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods’ project, and my specific focus area was on children’s access to play in suburban neighbourhoods. As I started my research it rapidly became clear that children’s ‘independent mobility’ – the right to roam; to leave the house without adult supervision – was an integral element that influenced access to play. And as my infographic mentions, there was also a clear difference in boys’ and girls’ independent mobility – and this is what led me to eventually focus on gender and play more broadly. So, though it may seem like this infographic is less about girls and play, and more about access to play, it still contributes to the discussion about the interface between play and gender.

Given the large number of studies I drew on for this work – over 100 published articles – it isn’t feasible to provide individual links to the contributing research, but if independent mobility is an area of particular interest to you please get in touch – I may be able to share my reference pages from the work I produced.

In 2018 I also used my access to play findings to write this article for The Spinoff, rebutting comments made by a New Zealand journalist that modern parents were ‘too soft’ because they wouldn’t let their children travel to school without an adult. If you dislike older men telling the rest of us why we’re terrible parents, you might enjoy it.

(The original infographic I uploaded in this post was replaced with a less colourful version, after some feedback that the subtle colour scheme of the original might be difficult for some visually-impaired people to read.)