I don’t remember when I was first allowed to play outside alone.
I’m sure it was pretty young though, maybe six or seven.
For my own family we’re getting to the stage where our kids are asking if they can go out on their own.
Up until recently the answer was no but over the Easter holidays we gave in; at least where my son’s concerned.
There were some caveats to it but it seemed like the right time to give it a go.
Times Have Changed
When I was growing up in the 1970s in the middle of nowhere, I used to spend hours playing outside.
I’m sure there were as many bad people around then but it felt like a much more innocent time.
By the time I was 9 or 10, I was cycling the few miles to my grandparent’s house at the weekend and back again in the dark.
The thought of letting my own children do that now makes me shudder.
There seem to be many more weirdos out there who would like nothing more than to do harm to a child.
Or perhaps we’re much more aware of their presence with social media and 24 hour news channels so readily available.
Short And Controlled
My son is now ten and we felt that was the right time to give him a bit more freedom.
He had been asking for a while to be allowed out on his own to play football on the nearby astroturf.
So over the Easter holidays we let him go by himself for half an hour at a time.
After that he had to report back to us and keep doing that each time for the first few days.
We live on a walled school campus and the astroturf is on the school grounds.
People can wander onto the campus when the gates are open but in general I’d say it’s a pretty safe place.
It’s Still Too Early For Some
My daughter is only seven and not very worldly-wise and I know she would love to be out with her brother too.
At this time, we don’t feel ready to let her go out, even if she were with her brother.
If they fall out, she’d be inclined to go wandering off somewhere on her own.
It’s not easy to decide when the right time will be for kids to play outside alone.
Even if I were playing outside alone myself at the age of seven, it doesn’t follow that every kid is the same.
And that’s why there’s no easy answer to when they’ll be ready.
At some point you have to take the plunge and let them have a little bit more responsibility.
You instinctively know your own child and what their personality’s like.
So you’re best placed to make that decision.
According to a poll by www.familiesonline.co.uk, the average age for allowing kids to play outside alone is 10.5 years.
Without knowing it, I’ve followed that trend with my son.
I’m not convinced I’d go along with allowing my daughter the same privileges at a slightly younger age.
I’d be more concerned about the stranger danger element with her as she’s very trusting.
Still, as my son’s gets older, I’d be more inclined to let them go out together; at least around the school campus.
What Age Do You Think Kids Should Be Allowed To Play Outside Alone?
There isn’t a one size fits all answer for this but I’d be interested to know what you think.
Please let me know in the comments section below.