ijerph-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Child Friendly Environments: Factors Influencing Children’s Activities

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2023) | Viewed by 25781

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of the Built Environment, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513, 5600MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Interests: sustainable urbanization and travel behavior; urban planning and design; children’s outdoor behavior

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Geological, and Mining Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, Montreal, QC H3T 1J4, Canada
Interests: sustainable transport; behavior change; social impacts of transport; children’s travel; transport and wellbeing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many children across the world do not currently meet the recommended levels of physical activity. Participation in physical activity provides many benefits for the physical and mental health and cognitive development of children. While the importance of outdoor play and independent travel has been recognized, children’s outdoor time has reduced over the past several decades. Children’s leisure time is increasingly spent indoors and supervised rather than independently outdoors. Parents are increasingly placing restrictions on their children due to perceived risks, resulting in lower levels of physical activity.

To turn this trend around, the urban environment should become safer and more child friendly. To achieve this, many approaches are necessary, including: insight into mechanisms of behavior change, parental perceptions and decisions; the influence of the community (or social environment), technology, or policies on independent travel and play; how the physical built environment facilitates or limits children’s play and travel. This Special Issue, therefore, invites papers with new empirical findings on how urban environments can better facilitate children’s activities and how this is related to their wellbeing, as well as papers on urban interventions to increase children’s wellbeing and high-quality systematic reviews related to child-friendly environments. Child-centered perspectives (i.e., direct input from children as opposed to through solely parents’ views) are encouraged.

Dr. Dena Kasraian
Dr. Pauline Van den Berg
Dr. E. Owen D. Waygood
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • children
  • living environment
  • health
  • wellbeing
  • play
  • active travel

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Other

19 pages, 1332 KiB  
Article
More-Than-Human: A Cross-Sectional Study Exploring Children’s Perceptions of Health and Health-Promoting Neighbourhoods in Aotearoa New Zealand
by Tiffany Williams, Kim Ward, Victoria Egli, Sandra Mandic, Tessa Pocock, Terryann C. Clark and Melody Smith
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16968; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416968 - 17 Dec 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2192
Abstract
A disconnect between children’s ideas and their incorporation into environmental design, in the context of rapid urbanisation and climate crises, compelled us to reflect on children’s meaningful participation in positive environmental change. Our research aimed to bring new knowledge to the fore using [...] Read more.
A disconnect between children’s ideas and their incorporation into environmental design, in the context of rapid urbanisation and climate crises, compelled us to reflect on children’s meaningful participation in positive environmental change. Our research aimed to bring new knowledge to the fore using a participatory, child-centred approach to understanding children’s perceptions of health and health-promoting neighbourhoods in Aotearoa New Zealand. The cross-sectional Neighbourhoods and Health study was conducted with 93 primary school-aged children (approximate ages 8 to 10 years) from two schools in Ōtepoti Dunedin and two schools in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland from June 2020 to August 2021. We present a framework of twelve child-centred topics of importance for health (Healthcare and ‘not getting sick’, ‘How you feel’, and Taking care of yourself), health-promoting neighbourhoods (Proximity, safety and feel, Range of ‘places to go’, ‘Friendly streets’, and ‘No smoking’), and those common to both (Connections with other humans, Healthy food and drink, Exercising and playing sport ‘to keep fit’, ‘Nature’ and ‘helping the environment’, and Recreational activities). The more-than-human theory was used to situate our study findings, and we explored three threads evident in children’s thinking: (1) care for humans and non-humans, (2) vital interdependence of human–non-human relations, and (3) understanding complex urban environments through everyday activities. We conclude that the thriving of humans and non-humans in urban environments is important to children in Aotearoa New Zealand. We affirm that children have clear and salient ideas about health and health-promoting neighbourhoods. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 2780 KiB  
Article
An Examination of Child Pedestrian Rule Compliance at Crosswalks around Parks in Montreal, Canada
by Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Mojgan Rafiei, Lambert Desrosiers-Gaudette and Zeinab AliYas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(21), 13784; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192113784 - 23 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1769
Abstract
This study aims to examine child pedestrian safety around parks by considering four rule-compliance measures: temporal, spatial, velocity and visual search compliance. In this regard, street crossing observations of 731 children were recorded at 17 crosswalks around four parks in Montreal, Canada. Information [...] Read more.
This study aims to examine child pedestrian safety around parks by considering four rule-compliance measures: temporal, spatial, velocity and visual search compliance. In this regard, street crossing observations of 731 children were recorded at 17 crosswalks around four parks in Montreal, Canada. Information on child behaviors, road features, and pedestrian–vehicle interactions were gathered in three separate forms. Chi-square tests were used to highlight the individual, situational, behavioral and road environmental characteristics that are associated with pedestrian rule compliance. About half of our sampled children started crossing at the same time as the adults who accompanied them, but more rule violations were observed when the adult initiated the crossing. The child’s gender did not have a significant impact on rule compliance. Several variables were positively associated with rule compliance: stopping at the curb before crossing, close parental supervision, and pedestrian countdown signals. Pedestrian–car interaction had a mixed impact on rule compliance. Overall, rule compliance among children was high for each of our indicators, but about two-thirds failed to comply with all four indicators. A few measures, such as longer crossing signals and pedestrian countdown displays at traffic lights, may help to increase rule compliance and, ultimately, provide safer access to parks. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 378 KiB  
Article
A Tale of Two Cities: Unpacking the Success and Failure of School Street Interventions in Two Canadian Cities
by Laura E. Smith, Veronique Gosselin, Patricia Collins and Katherine L. Frohlich
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(18), 11555; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811555 - 14 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2704
Abstract
One innovative strategy to support child-friendly cities is street-based interventions that provide safe, vehicle-free spaces for children to play and move about freely. School streets are one such innovation involving closing streets around elementary schools to vehicular traffic to improve children’s safety as [...] Read more.
One innovative strategy to support child-friendly cities is street-based interventions that provide safe, vehicle-free spaces for children to play and move about freely. School streets are one such innovation involving closing streets around elementary schools to vehicular traffic to improve children’s safety as they come and go from school while providing opportunities for children to play and socialize on the street. Launching these initiatives in communities dominated by automobiles is enormously challenging and little is known about why these interventions are successfully launched in some places but not others. As part of a larger research project called Levelling the Playing Fields, two School Street initiatives were planned for the 2021–2022 school year; one initiative was successfully launched in Kingston, ON, while the second initiative failed to launch in Montreal, QC. Using a critical realist evaluation methodology, this paper documents the contextual elements and key mechanisms that enabled and constrained the launch of these School Streets in these cities, through document analysis and key informant interviews. Our results suggest that municipal and school support for the initiative are both imperative to establishing legitimacy and collaborative governance, both of which were necessary for a successful launch. Full article
24 pages, 61192 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Children’s Independent Activities and the Built Environment of Outdoor Activity Space in Residential Neighborhoods: A Case Study of Nanjing
by Yang Zhou, Meng Wang, Siming Lin and Caiyun Qian
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 9860; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19169860 - 10 Aug 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2440
Abstract
Children are a vulnerable population that is frequently overlooked in urban planning. The spatial demands of children are garnering broader consideration in the development of public spaces in cities as efforts to promote child-friendly cities. Children’s independent activities (CIAs) during childhood are undeniably [...] Read more.
Children are a vulnerable population that is frequently overlooked in urban planning. The spatial demands of children are garnering broader consideration in the development of public spaces in cities as efforts to promote child-friendly cities. Children’s independent activities (CIAs) during childhood are undeniably beneficial to their physical and mental health. Residential areas are the main places for children’s daily activities. Building a suitable outdoor activity space in the community for children’s recreation is an essential foundation for improving CIAs and promoting the development of child-friendly neighborhoods. A sample of 15 typical children’s outdoor activity spaces in residential neighborhoods of Nanjing, China, was selected for the study to observe and record CIAs. The built environment indicators of residential outdoor spaces were extracted, and correlation analysis was employed to investigate the residential outdoor space elements relevant to CIAs. The results indicated that at the site level, higher percentages of tree coverage and soft paving enhanced CIAs, while high functional mix inhibited them. Additionally, gated communities, top-notch sanitation, secure facilities, neighborhoods with higher residential densities, and a diversity of activity facilities all stimulated children to engage in independent activities. Furthermore, questionnaires for the guardian indicated that they placed a high priority on site safety, and that waterfront areas and activity sites where incidents had occurred decreased parents’ willingness to allow participation in CIAs, whereas safety education or the use of positioning devices may promote CIAs. Based on the above results, we proposed appropriate adaptations for places in residential neighborhoods. The study expects to create a higher quality environment in residential neighborhoods for children to play in public spaces and provide beneficial help to improve the child-friendly neighborhood. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 552 KiB  
Article
Influences of the Built Environment on Rural School Children’s Travel Mode Choice: The Case of Chengdu
by Haimei Li, Li Han, Yibin Ao, Yan Wang and Tong Wang
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(15), 9008; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159008 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1636
Abstract
Since the reform and opening up of China, the rural built environment has changed dramatically. There is a need to understand how such changes have impacted rural children’s school travel mode choice to design the built environment and plan schools accordingly. This paper [...] Read more.
Since the reform and opening up of China, the rural built environment has changed dramatically. There is a need to understand how such changes have impacted rural children’s school travel mode choice to design the built environment and plan schools accordingly. This paper combines field measurement methods and questionnaires to obtain data on rural children’s school travel behavior and uses the multinomial logit (MNL) model to investigate the impacting factors. The results show the following insights: Age has a significant positive impact on children’s choice of bicycles and buses. The improvements in road layout and facility conditions are significantly and positively associated with children’s choice of electric bicycles for school. There is a significant positive correlation between a good and safe public environment and children’s choice of cycling. Furthermore, distance from home to school has a significant impact on the choice of children’s school travel mode: the greater the distance to school, the higher the probability that children will choose motorized modes of travel such as buses and private cars. This study provides empirical data and evidence in designing rural transport systems for school children based on their preferences concerning built environment factors. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

19 pages, 6850 KiB  
Article
Understanding Spatial Characteristics of Refugee Accommodations Associated with Refugee Children’s Physical Activity in Microenvironments: Six Case Studies in Berlin
by Siqi Chen and Martin Knöll
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 7756; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19137756 - 24 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1840
Abstract
Refugee children often spend a considerable amount of time in refugee accommodations with limited space and limited access to communal facilities. Such environmental settings make it difficult for refugee children to engage in physical activity (PA), which is essential for their health and [...] Read more.
Refugee children often spend a considerable amount of time in refugee accommodations with limited space and limited access to communal facilities. Such environmental settings make it difficult for refugee children to engage in physical activity (PA), which is essential for their health and social inclusion. While there is a strong evidence base for environmental attributes associated with non-refugee children’s PA, only a few studies have focused on refugee children. This article presents an exploratory study on the spatial characteristics of six refugee accommodations in Berlin and their relation to school-aged refugee children’s opportunities to engage in PA. Micro-environmental attributes included building typology and availability, size, and access to communal PA spaces using Space Syntax. PA opportunities were assessed using staff surveys, interviews, and field trips. Results indicated that none of the case studies provided a comprehensive range of PA opportunities. They also revealed unequal access within the facilities. Whereas the role of size was inconsistent, vital predictors included fewer floors and corridors with easy access to internal and external PA spaces. Our recommendations include prioritizing compact buildings with moderate heights when retrofitting existing facilities and raising awareness for the importance of active play for this vulnerable group. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

11 pages, 1291 KiB  
Article
Play-Friendly Communities in Nova Scotia, Canada: A Content Analysis of Physical Activity and Active Transportation Strategies
by Hilary A. T. Caldwell, Joshua Yusuf, Mike Arthur, Camille L. Hancock Friesen and Sara F. L. Kirk
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2984; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052984 - 3 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2383
Abstract
The Play-Friendly Cities framework describes key municipal actions and indicators which support a community’s playability and can positively influence children’s health behaviors and quality of life. The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of Nova Scotia physical activity (PA) [...] Read more.
The Play-Friendly Cities framework describes key municipal actions and indicators which support a community’s playability and can positively influence children’s health behaviors and quality of life. The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of Nova Scotia physical activity (PA) and active transportation (AT) strategies by applying the playability criteria in the Play-Friendly Cities framework. Methods: PA and AT strategies from communities across Nova Scotia were assessed using the Play-Friendly Cities framework. Strategy content was analyzed based on indicators across four themes: participation of children in decision making, safe and active routes around the community, safe and accessible informal play environments, and evidence-informed design of formal play spaces. Results: Forty-two (28 PA,14 AT) strategies were reviewed and all included statements reflective of at least one indicator (8 ± 4; range: 1–14). Content about safe and active routes around the community was most prevalent (41 plans, 812 mentions), while participation of children in decision making was least frequently presented (18 plans, 39 mentions). Content about safe and accessible informal play environments (31 plans, 119 mentions) and evidence-informed design of formal play spaces (28 plans, 199 mentions) was also present. Conclusions: All PA and AT strategies included some content reflective of a Play-Friendly City; however, there was great variability in the number of included indicators. This summary provides key information on opportunities, such as increasing meaningful involvement of children in decision making, that can inform future municipal actions and policies to improve a community’s playability. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Other

Jump to: Research

18 pages, 3006 KiB  
Systematic Review
Children and Urban Green Infrastructure in the Digital Age: A Systematic Literature Review
by Shengchen Yin, Dena Kasraian and Pieter van Wesemael
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 5906; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19105906 - 12 May 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3273
Abstract
In the digital age, time spent outdoor in green areas is significantly decreasing for children living in cities. With the advent of digital technology, a series of digital tools are gradually integrated into children’s lives and act as a double-edged sword: on the [...] Read more.
In the digital age, time spent outdoor in green areas is significantly decreasing for children living in cities. With the advent of digital technology, a series of digital tools are gradually integrated into children’s lives and act as a double-edged sword: on the one hand, an increasing number of children tend to stay at home and play digital games instead of interacting with nature; on the other hand, new digital technology is increasingly being used to engage children with outdoor activities. A host of studies have investigated children’s behaviour in the natural environment. However, a systematic literature review of children’s interaction with the urban green infrastructure (UGI) and the respective role of digital environment, based on a theoretical framework that explicitly takes the multi-level determinants and individual-level mechanism of behaviour change into account does not exist yet. This work provides a conceptual framework that covers various determinants, such as motivation, capability, and opportunity related factors of children’s behaviour in terms of their UGI interaction at the city and neighbourhood levels, while taking into account the individual-level mechanism of behavioural change and the role of the digital environment. The framework is used to systematically review recent international empirical evidence on the determinants of children–UGI interaction. The results are useful for laying the theoretical foundation for future empirical research on children–UGI interaction, specifically in the presence of digital interventions. They also provide urban/digital intervention designers and policymakers with theory-based design and policy guidelines for the creation of child-friendly UGI. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

29 pages, 2410 KiB  
Systematic Review
Objective and Perceived Traffic Safety for Children: A Systematic Literature Review of Traffic and Built Environment Characteristics Related to Safe Travel
by Yasser Amiour, E. O. D. Waygood and Pauline E. W. van den Berg
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2641; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052641 - 24 Feb 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4933
Abstract
The literature on children’s active transportation has shown the influence of the built environment characteristics on walking and crashes. Various reviews have examined those two questions. One influence on walking is the perception of traffic safety. However, it is not clear how, or [...] Read more.
The literature on children’s active transportation has shown the influence of the built environment characteristics on walking and crashes. Various reviews have examined those two questions. One influence on walking is the perception of traffic safety. However, it is not clear how, or even if, the built environment affects such perceptions. This research aims to understand which traffic and built environment characteristics influence objective and subjective/perceived traffic safety for children based on the analysis of previous studies in the field. Two types of research were used: the first examines the association between traffic and built environment characteristics and child pedestrian and/or cyclist collisions/injuries; the second relates to the perception of safety by parents and children for active transportation and, where studied, its relationship with built environment characteristics. A systematic review was conducted using five electronic databases. The total number of articles retrieved was reduced to 38 following the eligibility criteria and quality assessment, where 25 articles relate to injuries among children and 13 articles pertain to perception of safety. The results showed that high traffic volume and high vehicle speed are the main reasons children and parents feel unsafe when children use active travel, which matches the main findings on objective safety. Few articles on perception of safety related to the objective built environment were found. However, consistent findings exist. The presence of sidewalk was related to the safety of children. The presence of a crossing guard was positively related to perceived safety but was associated with higher rates of injuries among children. Intersection density was related to unsafe perceptions but was not statistically associated with objective traffic safety. Additionally, population density was found to be positively related to injuries among children, but not to perception of safety. The results help policy strategy to enhance the safety of children when using active transport modes. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop