A recent study, at University College London, has found that children's spatial behavior changes depending on where they are, who they are with and what they are doing.
Researchers asked children to wear GPS monitors to track their movements and activities and monitors to measure the amount of calories they burn. In addition to this, children logged their activities in a diary with info such as where, when and how they were traveling, who they were with and also the purpose of their trip. Researchers used this information to create an animated picture of what the child was doing. They measured 3 variables 1. speed of movement 2. intensity of activity and 3. mean angle turned, or sinuosity. Children moved faster and more energetically on the road than on open space, but in a more sinuous way in the open space. The moved faster at clubs than walking or playing. However walking expended more energy than being at a club. Without an adult children tend to potter about in a more exploratory way. This study shows that whilst speed has it's benefits children need to explore the environment at their own pace. Studies have shown that children have suffered a loss of freedom in recent years, in terms of being allowed out alone. Between 1971 and 1990 the amount of children allowed to go to school alone dropped from 72% to 2%. The researchers hope that the findings of this study will increase understanding and help children 'to use their local environment more, and so lead to healthier, happier lives'. To read more click here