Playground Risks

As mom to a 14-month old, Thursday’s New York Times article questioning whether a playground can be too safe made for a compelling read.

The article charts the transformation of playgrounds from places of adventure – think seesaws, tall slides and merry-go-rounds – to today’s   safety-first playgrounds.

According to the NYT, some researchers are questioning the value of safety-first playgrounds, even if children suffer fewer injuries.

The NYT reports:

“Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries – and the evidence for that is debatable – the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional  development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.†

The NYT cites one researcher who after observing children on the playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, identified six categories of  risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough and tumble play, and wandering alone away from adult supervision.

Apparently, the most common was climbing heights.

The gist of the NYT piece  (the original article is published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology) is that by gradually exposing themselves to more hazards in the   playground, children develop the techniques needed to master their fears and phobias over the longer-term.

Something worth bearing in mind as we encounter the challenges of   raising children.

Perhaps the most important takeaway, from a risk management  standpoint, in the NYT article is that the threat of litigation caused the removal of slides and seesaws from New York City   playgrounds.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on recreation.

One thought on “Playground Risks”

  1. It sounds like the Old Timers believe that today’s toddlers know both how high the old monkey bars were and how hard was the pavement below.
    My kids didn’t know anything about the old playgrounds, so when they climbed to the top of a contraption, they felt they had reached a pinnacle, and they had.

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