Children’s ratings of park features that encourage park visitation, physical activity and social interaction

Veitch, Ball, Flowers, Benedicte Deforche, Timperio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Social interaction and physical activity are of paramount importance to children's health and development and parks are one setting where children can be active and interact with others. However, the specific features of parks that promote or support physical activity and social interaction are not well-understood. The aim of this study was to examine the perceived importance of a selection of park features for encouraging park visitation, park-based physical activity and social interaction among children. Participants (n = 272, 9.6 ± 1.1 years, 51 % female) attending primary schools in Melbourne, Australia completed a survey during school time. They rated (from 1 to 10) digital images of 42 park features according to how much each feature would make them want to “visit the park”, “be active in the park” and “be with other people in the park”. Mean rating scores were calculated for the whole sample, and separately for males and females. For each condition (visit, active, social), each feature was then assigned a ranking from 1 to 42 (1 representing highest mean rating score). A large adventure playground was the highest rated image for all three outcomes. The next highest rated images were: a giant slide and interactive areas for park visitation; an obstacle course and giant slide for park-based physical activity; and interactive areas and an obstacle course for social interaction. Many differences in ratings were observed by gender, highlighting the importance of considering all demographic groups. This study reveals important perspectives from children about which park features should be prioritised in park design to encourage them to visit parks and to be active and social during their park visits. This evidence will inform planners and urban designers to create parks that better suit the needs of children, particularly in relation to social interaction and physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126963
Number of pages8
JournalUrban Forestry & Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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