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BMC Public Health. 2018 Apr 5;18(1):456. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5382-0.

The home electronic media environment and parental safety concerns: relationships with outdoor time after school and over the weekend among 9-11 year old children.

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Centre for Motivation and Health Behaviour Change, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK.
Centre for Motivation and Health Behaviour Change, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, USA.



Time spent outdoors is associated with higher physical activity levels among children, yet it may be threatened by parental safety concerns and the attraction of indoor sedentary pursuits. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between these factors and outdoor time during children's discretionary periods (i.e., after school and over the weekend).


Data from 462 children aged 9-11 years old were analysed using generalised linear mixed models. The odds of spending > 1 h outdoors after school, and > 2 h outdoors on a weekend were computed, according to demographic variables, screen-based behaviours, media access, and parental safety concerns. Interactions with sex and socioeconomic status (SES) were explored.


Boys, low SES participants, and children who played on their computer for < 2 h on a school day had higher odds of spending > 1 h outside after school than girls, high SES children and those playing on a computer for ≥2 h, respectively. Counterintuitive results were found for access to media devices and crime-related safety concerns as both of these were positively associated with time spent outdoors after school. A significant interaction for traffic-related concerns*sex was found; higher road safety concerns were associated with lower odds of outdoor time after school in boys only. Age was associated with weekend outdoor time, which interacted with sex and SES; older children were more likely to spend > 2 h outside on weekends but this was only significant among girls and high SES participants.


Our results suggest that specific groups of children are less likely to spend their free time outside, and it would seem that only prolonged recreational computer use has a negative association with children's outdoor time after school. Further research is needed to explore potential underlying mechanisms, and parental safety concerns in more detail.


Children; Outdoor time; Physical activity; Safety concerns; Screen time

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