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The social context moderates the relationship between neighborhood safety and adolescents' activities
- SARAH-JEANNE SALVY, DENISE M. FEDA, LEONARD H. EPSTEIN, JAMES N. ROEMMICH
- Preventive Medicine Reports 2017 v.6 no. pp. 355-360
- accelerometry, adolescents, models, peers, physical activity, social behavior, youth
- Studies of neighborhood safety and physical activity have typically neglected to consider the youth's peer context as a modifier of these relationships. This study fills this gap in testing the independent and interactive effects of perceived neighborhood safety and time spent with friends and peers on young adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior. Participants (N=80; ages 13–17) completed the Pedestrian/Traffic Safety and Crime Safety subscales of the adolescent version of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS). An experience sampling methodology was used to assess sedentary behaviors/screen time and the social context in which physical activity and sedentary time/behavior occurred. Physical activity was assessed via accelerometry. Multilevel models were used to estimate the relationships between predictors (neighborhood safety and social context) and outcomes (physical activity and sedentary time/behavior). Frequency of peer/friend interactions moderated the relationships between neighborhood safety and adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior. Specifically, physical activity was more strongly influenced by neighborhood safety among adolescents who reported spending less time with peers and friends than among those who reported frequent peer interactions. Among youths who perceived that their neighborhoods were safer, spending more time with friends and peers was related to greater engagement in sedentary activities, whereas this was not the case among adolescents who perceived that their neighborhoods were less safe. The peer social context moderates the relationship between perceived neighborhood safety and adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior. Improving social interactions at the individual level within neighborhoods may decrease concerns of safety.