Housing and Community Environments vs. Independent Mobility: Roles in Promoting Children's Independent Travel and Unsupervised Outdoor Play. Academic Article uri icon


  • Children's independent mobility (CIM) has declined dramatically in recent decades despite its benefits in facilitating childhood development, promoting physical activity, and combating the obesity epidemic. This US-based study examines the impacts of housing and neighborhood environments on two modes of CIM-home-based independent travel to non-school destinations and unsupervised outdoor play-while considering personal and social factors. A bilingual parent/guardian survey was distributed to public elementary schools in Austin, Texas, asking about children's travel and play, housing and neighborhood environments, and personal and social factors. A Google Street View audit was conducted to capture additional housing-related information. Logistic regressions were used to predict CIM. For second to fifth graders (N = 525), less than two-thirds of the parents would allow children's independent travel to non-school destinations (62%) and unsupervised outdoor play (57.9%), with the majority limited to a short distance (five-minute walk) and a few destinations (e.g., friend's/relative's home). Stranger danger was a negative predictor and the presence of friend's/relative's home was a positive predictor for both modes of CIM. Quality of neighborhood environment was another positive correlate for independent travel to non-school destinations. Significant personal and social factors were also identified. Study findings demonstrated the impacts of physical environments on CIM and the potential of using relevant interventions to promote children's health and development.

published proceedings

  • Int J Environ Res Public Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Qiu, L., & Zhu, X.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Qiu, Lingyi||Zhu, Xuemei

publication date

  • February 2021