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On Outdoor Play Children And Young People Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 1868 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The following research is to be related to outdoor play and its benefits for children and why outdoor play is not what it used to be. Research done on children stated that it is a myth that children enjoy staying indoors playing computer games and indoor games, a greater number of children prefer to play outside eighty eight per cent would prefer to play at the beach or by a river, seventy nine per cent like to play in the park, seventy nine per cent enjoy riding their bike and seventy six children playing ball games. However parents would prefer that their child stays indoors as they feel it is safer one in four would rather their child play on the computer than climb trees and one in five computer- based games play than letting their children play on fields. (Play England 2011) Children missing out on the great outdoors http://www.playengland.org.


To help with this research project the literature research will be conducted on secondary research from books and articles on the subject and through the internet. It will also examine a range of quantitative and qualitative research.

Literature review

Research by the Department of the Environment (1973) on children that play outdoors and in the local area of where they live have declined over the past thirty years, a report done on outdoor play in 1973 showed that seventy five per cent of children played in the street as this was found to be the most popular. The study showed that children were more involved in physical activities like walking, running, made their own go-karts and ball games (Department of the Environment 1973).

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Another Study that was done by Play Board in 1995 had a similar outcome regarding children’s play this was done on two samples of over eight hundred children aged five to fourteen, these children were asked where they would play if they were not at home twenty four per cent of children said playing in the street, eighteen per cent said the play park and seventeen per cent said the garden (Parkinson 1985)

Information obtained from a survey done in 2005 stated that only fifteen per cent of children aged between five and fifteen play outside in the street this is due to the quantity of obstacles put in their way of outdoor play (Department of transport 2006). Transport has a big influence on how children play. An ESRC sponsored study in 2000 showed that children thought that traffic is one of the biggest dangers of outdoor play along with gangs, bullies, and strangers (Matthews and Limb 2000).

Research done by Savlone and playengland (2011) showed that most parents ventured outdoors as a child, however they now have concerns their children do not have the same opportunities as they did then. Research done with children showed that forty two per cent of children said that they have never made a daisy chain; thirty per cent of children have not attempted to climb trees. Children are aware of barriers to outdoor play as their parents are telling them to keep safe a report done by Young Voice and The Children’s Society in preparation for Playday 2003 stated that parents are always warning their children of ‘stranger danger’ (Stockdale,Katz and Brook 2003a)

Public attitudes toward children spending more time playing outdoors is positive and believe this as being an important part of a child’s life it has social benefits play with other children has an impact on how children relate to one another, from being part of a group or part of the local community (Casey 2010)

“In the street, particularly in the nooks and crannies of the public space not under the watchful gaze of adults, children may thus begin forming a public identity and establish their own selfhood and independence”(Spilsbury 2005, p 81).

For years research findings has shown the importance of outdoor play and children’s well- being this was recognised in the 1960s when Mead (1966) stated that the neighbourhoods give children the opportunity to discover their environment and learn life lessons. Worpole and Knox (2007) believed that play is important for children; it can build some good friendships and understand the rules of social life. Outdoor play can benefit children in natural surroundings; free play and exposure to nature are vastly recognised as part of a child’s healthy development (Moore and Cosco 2009).

Studies of research show that daily connections with exposures to the outdoors can improve fitness attention and can lower sickness rates it is also believed that this can give children a sense of freedom. Children that play outdoors learn to navigate their immediate environment and build their self-confidence (Open university 2011). Those children that do not play outdoors will have less confidence and will unlikely be involved in the community (Gleave 2010). When children play out in the natural environment they are likely to enjoy nature as they grow up.

Adrian Voce, Co-Director of Play England Said:

“Most parents know that children are curious about, and love to play outdoors. This is a deeply instinctive part of human nature and a vital part of healthy childhoods. We need to ensure that all children can access local green spaces to play, enabling them to have everyday adventures outside. To do this we need to support parents to help them feel confident to let children play out.” (Adrian Voce, Co-Director of Play England) Children missing out on the great outdoors (wwwplayengland.org.uk).

A UK survey found that ninety one per cent of adults understood the importance of outdoor play, sixty per cent said that they were worried about the safety of their children play in public places (Mc Neish & Roberts, cited in Valentine & McKenrick,1997).

Beunderman (2010) found evidence that child learn life skills through outdoor play in their communities for example looking out for each other, asking for help. It is argued that having these abilities can offer them a positive outlook on the community gaining trust, feeling welcome and getting to know people in the community and being able to respect and have better relationships with other adults.

According to the working paper by Lester and Russell (2010) on the importance of play:

“Adults should be aware of the importance of play and take action to promote and protect the conditions that support it. The guiding principle is that any intervention to promote play acknowledges its characteristics and allows sufficient flexibility, unpredictability and security for children to play freely.”

(Lester and Russell 2010: 46)

Bishop (2012) stated that 25 per cent of toddlers are lacking vitamin D. The importance of outdoor play is essential for vitamin D as this comes from the sun and is one of the most important vitamins you need for your immune system and bones. Bristol University exposed some new research from the children of the nineties study recording the health of fourteen thousand five hundred children from birth in the 1990s, it shows that the connection among low levels of vitamin D and depression this happens in childhood so children that play outdoor reduce the risk of getting vitamin D deficiency and have a healthy body

“If you spend your time playing Nintendo or computer games instead of running about outside, riding in a car instead of on a bike, taking the tube / bus instead of walking through the park, thinking you look cool always wearing dark glasses or if you have dark skin to genetically protect you from a hot equatorial sun and you live in northern Europe or north America then you are going to benefit from a vitamin D supplement. A vitamin D deficiency leaves you with a greater risk of a number of different diseases not just bone problems such as rickets.” (Yvonne Bishop-Weston 2012)


It is evident that there is a shortage of outdoor space for children to play with the ever increase of built up areas. Fewer play parks and not enough affordable places for parents to take children so that they can have the freedom to be able playing outdoors. It is also evident that children achieve much better when they are playing outdoors such as physical development, social skills, problem solving and creativity. (http://www.npt.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1639).


Casey, T (2010) Inclusive Play: Practical strategies for children from birth to eight. London: Sage.

Beunderman, J (2010) People Make Play: The impact of staffed play provision on children, families and communities. London: Play England.

Department of the Environment. (1973). Children at Play: Design

Bulletin 27. London: HMSO.

Department for Transport (2006). National Travel Survey 2005.

Transport Statistics.


Gleave, J (2010) Community Play: A literature review. London: Play England. Available online at: http://www.playday.org.uk/PDF/Community-play-a-literature-review.pdf

(Accessed Jan. 2013).

Lester, S and Russell, W (2010) Children’s right to play: An examination of the importance of play in the lives of children worldwide. Working Paper No. 57, The Hague, The Netherland: Bernard van Leer Foundation

Matthews, H. and Limb, M. (2000). Exploring the ‘fourth environment’:

young people’s use of place and views on their environment. Stirling:

University of Stirling. ESRC.

Mead, M (1966) ‘Neighbourhood and human needs’, Ekistics, 21, 124-126, in Blakely, K S (1994) ‘Parents’ Conceptions of Social Danger to Children in the Urban Environment’, Children’s Environment, 1, 1, 16-25.

Moore, R and Cosco, N (2009) ‘The re-emerging importance of outdoor play in nature’, Playrights Magazine, 1, 4-6.

Parkinson, C. E. (1985). Where Children Play: an analysis of interviews

about where children aged 5 14 normally play and their preferences for

out of school activities. Play Board.

Open University (2011) Play, learning and the brain. Available online at: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=397465&printable=1

(Accessed Jan. 2013).

Spilsbury, JC (2005) ‘We Don’t Really Get to Go Out in the Front Yard’: Children’s home range and neighbourhood violence’, Children’s Geographies, 3, 1, 79-99.

Stockdale,D. Katz,A.and Brook,L (2003a) You can’t keep me in. London: The Children’s Society, Young Voice

Voce, A. (2013). Co-Director of Play England (2013) Children missing out on the great outdoors http://www.playengland.org.uk/news/2011/08/children-missing-out-on-the-great-outdoors.aspx (Accessed Jan. 2013)

Yvonne Bishop-Weston (2012)


(Accessed Jan 2013)

Worpole, K and Knox, K (2007) The Social Value of Public Spaces. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation


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