The State of Play: Socio-ecological perspectives on children’s outdoor play


The Playability (PLAY) study seeks to gain the perspective of children aged 10 to 13 years and their parents on why they are motivated – or not – to play outside. This study focused on understanding how the physical outdoor environment as well as social factors influence children’s outdoor play and independent mobility. The ultimate goal of this study is to develop an index of the playability of outdoor environments – the extent to which a given environment is friendly for children’s unsupervised outdoor play. The playability index will be useful for designing urban environments to meet children’s needs and positively influence their development and well-being.

Study Status

Data collection: completed.

Participant recruitment: completed.

Data analysis: ongoing.


Infographic on why playing outdoors is so important for children? The Playability study [link]

Riazi, N., Brussoni, M., Vertinsky, P., & Faulkner, G. (2021). “Well, you feel more responsible when you’re unsupervised”: Exploring family perspectives on children’s independent mobility. Children, 8(3), 225. [link]

Han, C.S., Lin, Y., Mâsse, L.C., Brussoni, M. (2020). “There’s kind of a wall I have to stay inside of”: A qualitative understanding of children’s independent mobility range, destination, time and expansion. Children, Youth and Environments, 30(2), 97-118. [link]

Brussoni, M., Lin, Y., Han, C., Janssen, I., Schuurman, N., Boyes, R., . . . Mâsse, L. C. (2020). A qualitative investigation of unsupervised outdoor activities for 10- to 13-year-old children: “I like adventuring but I don’t like adventuring without being careful”. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 70, 101460. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101460 [link]

Lambert, A., Vlaar, J., Herrington, S., & Brussoni, M. (2019). What is the relationship between the neighbourhood built environment and time spent in outdoor play? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 16(20). E3840. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203840 [link]

Vlaar, J., Brussoni, M., Janssen, I., Mâsse, L.C. (2019). Roaming the neighbourhood: Environmental and parental influences on children’s territorial range. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(17), 3129. [link]

Han, C., Mâsse, L.C., Wilson, A., Janssen, I., Schuurman, N., Brussoni, M., & The Playability Study Research Team. (2018). State of play: Methodologies for investigating children’s outdoor play and independent mobility. Children, Youth & Environments, 28(2), 194-231. doi: 10.7221/chilyoutenvi.28.2.0194 [link]

Yee, C., Yuen, C., Pang, I., & Gugliemi, S – under the supervision Dr. Nadine Schuurman. (2018). Geography 455 – SFU Mapping Playability project. [link]