Children’s independence and affordances experienced in the context of public open spaces: a study of diverse inner-city and suburban neighbourhoods in Auckland, New Zealand

Public open spaces (POS) are key neighbourhood destinations for children, providing opportunities for meaningful experiences (i.e. affordances) and independence. This study aimed to explore children’s experiences and perceptions of neighbourhood POS in order to understand POS affordances for children’s independent mobility (CIM). This study utilised go-along (walking) and home interviews with 140 children aged 9-13 years living in nine diverse neighbourhoods across Auckland, New Zealand. Interviews were recorded and transcripts analysed using deductive thematic analysis. Themes explored were: (1) CIM and factors influencing CIM (i.e. parental licence, use of mobile phone technology, safety of POS and geographical relocation) and (2) affordances of POS (including actualising affordances for play). Key findings indicate that POS were preferred local neighbourhood destinations and play was the main affordance experienced in POS. Parental restrictions were the greatest influence on whether a child could make independent trips to the POS. Mobile technologies may be useful for facilitating independence in the neighbourhood. Abbreviations: CIM: children’s independent mobility; KITC: kids in the city; NZ: New Zealand; POS: public open space. © 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Public open spaces (POS) are key neighbourhood destinations for children, providing opportunities for meaningful experiences (i.e. affordances) and independence. This study aimed to explore children’s experiences and perceptions of neighbourhood POS in order to understand POS affordances for children’s independent mobility (CIM). This study utilised go-along (walking) and home interviews with 140 children aged 9-13 years living in nine diverse neighbourhoods across Auckland, New Zealand. Interviews were recorded and transcripts analysed using deductive thematic analysis. Themes explored were: (1) CIM and factors influencing CIM (i.e. parental licence, use of mobile phone technology, safety of POS and geographical relocation) and (2) affordances of POS (including actualising affordances for play). Key findings indicate that POS were preferred local neighbourhood destinations and play was the main affordance experienced in POS. Parental restrictions were the greatest influence on whether a child could make independent trips to the POS. Mobile technologies may be useful for facilitating independence in the neighbourhood. Abbreviations: CIM: children’s independent mobility; KITC: kids in the city; NZ: New Zealand; POS: public open space. © 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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