I have written quite a lot about the decline in children’s freedom to play and get around out of doors. The topic is often the subject of media debate. In an effort to raise the quality of this debate, I offer two charts with contrasting explanations for this change.
The Media Version
Notes for editors (and readers)
1) I know of no good evidence to back up the assumption made in the first chart (that parents as a group have simply become more protective than they used to be).
2) My second chart is no doubt a partial picture. It includes some of the more important changes, with a focus on the UK and/or USA and the last 30 or 40 years. Also, I wanted to back up my claims. Hence this chart only includes trends that are reasonably well supported by common-sense argument or evidence. (Here are my sources.)
3) I have left out factors that are not well supported by evidence. For example, I thought that one factor might be declining levels of trust and neighbourliness. But it turns out that, in the UK at least, the evidence on this is mixed [pdf link].
Have I left anything out? I am sure I have (see notes above). I would welcome comments and suggestions. I am particularly keen to include factors that are supported by evidence. I don’t mean evidence of cause and effect (that would be hard). I just mean evidence, rather than assertion or opinion. In other words: if you make a claim that ‘X has changed’ then I’d like to see some numbers to back up the claim. All such claims – and any other comments – gratefully received!