“In my day…” – parents’ views on children’s physical activity and screen viewing in relation to their own childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Emma Solomon-Moore
  • Lydia Emm-Collison
  • Simon J Sebire
  • Zoi Toumpakari
  • Deborah A Lawlor
  • Russell Jago

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Bristol


Physical activity and screen viewing are associated with cardio-metabolic risk factors, psychological wellbeing, and academic performance among children. Across the last generation, children’s physical activity and screen viewing behaviours have changed, coinciding with changes to the home and neighbourhood environment. This study aimed to qualitatively explore parents’ views on their 8–9-year-old child’s childhood and how this compares to experiences from their own childhood, with a specific focus on physical activity and screen viewing behaviours. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 51 parents (mean age = 41.2 years, range 31.5 to 51.5 years), between July and October 2016. Inductive and deductive content analyses were used to explore parents’ perceptions of their child’s physical activity and screen viewing behaviours in comparison to their own childhood behaviours. Interview data revealed that compared to the relative freedom they recalled as children, parents restrict their children’s independent mobility and outdoor play due to concerns about safety. Despite their children having greater access to structured activities than they did as children, parents feel their children are “missing out,” and perceived their own childhood as better with regards to maximising independent and outdoor play and limiting screen viewing. Innovative strategies are needed to change the social norms surrounding children’s independent mobility and outdoor play


Original languageEnglish
Article number2547
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2018