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Playground Accessibility and Neighbourhood Social Interaction Among Parents

Listed author(s):
  • Scott Bennet


  • Nikolaos Yiannakoulias
  • Allison Williams
  • Peter Kitchen
Registered author(s):

    While the positive association between social interaction and access to green space is well accepted, little research has sought to understand the role of children’s playgrounds in facilitating social interaction within a community. Playgrounds are spaces designed to facilitate play and the interaction of children, but may also be important places of interaction between parents. In this paper we examine how access to playground spaces is related to social interaction between parents. We use two measures of accessibility (1) walking distance to the closest playground and (2) playground service area, a measure of the number of potential users of a playground based on population density. We use generalized estimating equations, an extension of generalized linear models, to control for the confounding effects of socio-economic status (income, education), neighbourhood dynamics (neighbourhood location, years in neighbourhood) and free time (daily outdoor activity, marital status, number of children) on the independent relationship between social interaction and access to playground spaces. Our results suggest that while accessibility to playgrounds is associated with social interaction among parents, the direction of the effect is opposite to existing literature on green space and social interaction; parents with low accessibility to playgrounds are more likely to interact socially with their neighbours than parents with high accessibility. Our results suggest a pattern of spatial behaviour in which the burden of poor access to some resources may actually encourage greater neighbourhood engagement. Future research studying the relationship between health and green space may benefit from studying the specific role of playground spaces. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

    Volume (Year): 108 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 199-213

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:108:y:2012:i:2:p:199-213
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0062-4
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    1. Sjerp de Vries & Robert A Verheij & Peter P Groenewegen & Peter Spreeuwenberg, 2003. "Natural environments -- healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 35(10), pages 1717-1731, October.
    2. Giles-Corti, Billie & Donovan, Robert J., 2002. "The relative influence of individual, social and physical environment determinants of physical activity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(12), pages 1793-1812, June.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:9:1546-1551_1 is not listed on IDEAS
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