Children’s Diminishing Play Space: a Study of Inter-generational Change in Children’s Use of their Neighbourhoods



A survey of 421 children and 165 parents from three suburban primary schools in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia has provided information on the nature and location of children’s play, both at present and a generation ago. Although modern children have greater access to individual transport in the form of higher bicycle ownership, other constraints appear to have restricted their play space. These include the availability of home-based leisure technology such as computer games and greater parental restriction on where children might play. The results of the survey would appear to indicate that children prefer to play at home. However, analysis of the children’s stories and drawings suggests that, given the chance, a majority of children would choose to engage in outdoor activities in the bush, in parks or on the beach. Their actual choice of play space may thus be determined by a knowledge of parental constraints.