Are Playgrounds Too Safe?

Mrs. - posted on 07/22/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/scienc...

Came across this article from the NYT online. It struck a real chord with me. I've often wondered about the parks where I live, the lack of tall jungle gyms and slides. I thought maybe I just thought they were bigger when I was a kid because, you know, I was a kid...not so.

What do you think, are playgrounds too safe? Is it creating a generations of kids who are not able to test limits and develop basic survival skills?

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/22/2011

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Yeah, I am not a new mom. This is my second, one is 5, one is 15 months, and a niece and nephew that I have been around since they were young....I just don't like the drop offs. I think they are too dangerous for new adventurous ones that just learn to walk. She goes up and down the stairs by herself, and the slide...but I hold onto her near the drop off. No problem being safe....rather than have a horrible death that can be prevented.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/22/2011

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I am in Massachusetts. Amie, those drop off points scare the living shit out of me, especially when there are a group of kids up in that area. My son has learned to stay away from them, but my 15 month old is exploring. The equipment that she uses, the drop off point is probably about 4ft off the ground. There is no need for that on the infant/toddler sets.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/22/2011

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Not in any of the parks I have been to, from Missouri to Massachussetts...oh and El Paso Texas.....and of course Minnesota. There are always those drop off spots, they go really high, and when it is to hot since most are not in the shade, the slides can burn your legs in the direct sunlight. I wish they were safer. Even the toddler ones have parts that just drop off...WTF?

Rosie - posted on 07/22/2011

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all the playgrounds around me are super tall, and scare the shit out of me, lol. i let my older kids go on the THIRD story, but not lucas my 4 year old. i panic when he goes on the second story, he's so little though (27 lbs) that i'm always afraid he'll fall through the railing or something. the slide that's up there is one of the ones that goes super fast. i can totally see him breaking his leg on it or flying out the end onto the ground and hurting himself that way.



so basically i guess i don't know what they're talking about. even if this is a trend in other places, i'm not sure about the correlation between it and not being able to test limits. i was an absolute jungle gym monkey when i was a child. daredevil to the extreme, yet my social personality is reserved, and i always hold back. i ALWAYS play it safe, i could never start my own business, or hell, even tell someone off that pisses me off in fear of what will happen (whatever that may be).

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Lady Heather - posted on 07/24/2011

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I totally catapulted off a merry-go-round when I was a kid. I was 3 and I remember it like it was yesterday. It's a fond childhood memory that every kid should have.

Jenn - posted on 07/24/2011

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We have play parks with big things to climb, monkey bars, big slides etc. still. The only real changes are that now more things are plastic versus scorchingly-hot-ready-to-burn-the-skin-off-your-legs metal.

Stifler's - posted on 07/24/2011

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There used to be a clown swing at the park when I was a kid, even when i was ateenager. Now it's got some shit fort instead with that rubber shit underneath. The slide is also like 1/3 of the height. Way to ruin play time BUCC.

[deleted account]

"All the fun stuff is being taken out and replaced by crap. I can't even find a merry-go-round anymore. So we fell off them a bit. Big whoop. It all started when they invented those plastic covers to go around the chains on the swings (thus rendering them untwistable) and it's only gone downhill from there."

@ Heather, From what i remember where i live merry-go-rounds were all taken out when i was about 10 due to a spate of accidents where people were coming off them and seriously injuring themselves. I HATE those people for ruining my favourite playground equipment. The best thing about swings was twisting them up as tight as possible and then seeing how fast and dizzy you could get with them untwisting. Stupid girls and their long hair getting caught in them making them a hazard.

We have ok equipment where i live. This is my kids second favourite to play on. The other is very similar but has a big rope climbing thingy for them and a rope bridgy thingy, no planks all rope, linking 2 towers.
http://www.google.com/imgres?q=play+equi...,r:2,s:18&biw=1249&bih=615

I couldn't take my daredevils to anything to mundaine or they would make it risky and teach the other kids how to be dangerous.

Krista - posted on 07/23/2011

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@Heather -- yeah, that slide looks like it's listing pretty dangerously to one side. Steep is one thing -- dilapidated is quite another.

Lady Heather - posted on 07/23/2011

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Holy crap, that is the slide of my dreams Mary.

We do have one unsafe park left in town. But it is a little too unsafe, even for me. This is my engineer husband checking for structural issues.
http://s41.photobucket.com/albums/e261/l...

He deemed it unsafe for use. My sister and I went down anyways. Just once.

I don't know why that one hasn't been torn down yet. No one cares about the kids at my old elementary school I guess. Hopefully they keep the merry-go-round forever. That's my favourite.

[deleted account]

I don't think they're too safe OR too dangerous. Of course, I have the kids (the 9 year olds.. not the 3 year old yet) that climb on the outsides and tops of all the playground stuff. ;) Oh.... and basketball hoop poles. Can't forget that one. lol

All the kids I know find a way to make whatever they've got... fun. If the actual equipment isn't 'challenging' enough... they make their own challenging games out of whatever they have to work w/....

Granted, my girls DO get 'bored' at the playground at our apartment complex, but then they just start doing gymnastics or beaming each other w/ a tennis ball. lol

Corinne - posted on 07/23/2011

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That's it, I'm packing my bags and coming to play with you lot! My kids would LOVE that slide Mary, I want one.

Mary - posted on 07/23/2011

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Yeah, I really hate that thing, but my little fearless wonder adores it. It makes me a little woozy to climb up to the top of that thing! There are a ton of other slides there, but she tells me they are "too slow, Mommy!". Those are the ones she (and the other kids) only like to try and climb up backwards =/

Krista - posted on 07/23/2011

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@Mary: I do the same thing with Sam, where he's only 23 months. I let him on all that play equipment, but I go with him, and then let him slide down alone. Of course, the little daredevil WOULD like the highest, steepest slides...

Mary - posted on 07/23/2011

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The playgrounds in my area vary. The ones that are on the grade school lots tend to be the tamest, or "safest". The free-standing ones tend to be a lot more challenging, with tons of things to climb, scale, and test a child's physical capabilities.

Here's the slice that absolutely terrified me when Molly was about 20 months. She freakin loved it. I did used to follow her up the steps to the top, and then let her slide down alone, since if she slipped, and fell off , she would most likely die. That (rather steep) stairway to the top is completely open, and just the slightest stumble could be disastrous. Of course, it's the favorite of kids of all ages!
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/50835102

Charlie - posted on 07/22/2011

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I dont think there is too safe but what bothers me is the ever growing list of equipment that is no longer acceptable because people are so litigious .

Krista - posted on 07/22/2011

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I've never seen a park before that struck me as being "too safe". When we go to my mom's, we always go to the park in my hometown, because it's awesome. It's fenced in, so you don't have to worry about your kid running off on you, and the ground is recycled rubber (instead of the knee-shredding crushed rock we had as kids). But the equipment itself is still plenty risky -- several drop-off points, lots of things to climb on.

http://www.bathurstrotary.ca/wp-content/...

That's it there, mid-construction.

And hey, even in the safest of parks, kids can still develop basic survival skills. My kid was just standing there on the ground, when a running 7-year-old crashed into him and knocked him over. He didn't mean to, and apologized profusely. So even if the park is safe, kids WILL be kids.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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Big kids have fun on those things too. It's why parents are supposed to be paying attention. That doesn't always happen though.

I also have no problem telling kids to knock it off and watch what they're doing. Watch your kids so other people don't need to do it.

There has been nothing that I've run across, other than parents not being attentive, that would require playgrounds or schools to take out the equipment. Maybe this is why I love our new community so much. We all watch our kids together while we visit.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/22/2011

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I have never seen one that would be "too safe". All the ones I have been to have at least 2 areas, one for the big kids, one for the little toddler infants. This one I used to love had 4 sets...one was HUGE for the big kids and spread the entire length of the park, lots of slides, climbing walls, poles with the disc steeps, rope swing, lots of bridges and walk ways, then the next sized kids, and so on and so forth.



What I don't like, is when the big kids go on the infant and toddler area. So many times they just push past the little ones and send them tumbling. There really is no need for the big kids to be on the infant stuff, unless they have a little brother or sister that they are playing with.

Charlie - posted on 07/22/2011

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The parks where I live are great , lots of climbing equipment but I do think school playground equipment is too safe , we had to remove the monkey bars , MONKEY BARS which are essential to a playground IMO because it was now deemed a hazard .

I see these amazing schools in Italy with tree houses way up in the trees and rope bridges , so amazing and fun .

Stupid Australian school saftey policies , I hate the cotton wool generation they are so keen on making.

Ez - posted on 07/22/2011

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It's a bit of both where I live. My 2.5yo has no interest in the wimpy little playgrounds. There are a few around here that are just lame. But there are also some big ones. One has a huge metal and rope jungle gym like the picture in the article. She has full access to it, but chooses not to go very high.

There is a park across the road from my Nana's place. When I was a kid, it had a huge slide, see-saw and merry-go-round. Now all that's left are the swings.

So yes, I think it is definitely possible for them to be too safe. And boring lol.

Amber - posted on 07/22/2011

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This definitely isn't how it is where I live. There is a huge park about 5 minutes from us. They have a smaller area that is safe for toddlers. But there are 4 other slides that are all at least 6-7 feet up. There are 5-6 drop off points with rock walls, firemen's poles, climbing nets, etc at them. There are other places with ladders that go straight up 6 feet.

The monkey bars are about 6 feet up, I can grasp them standing on the ground and I'm 5'8. I help Christian across those because he's not quite strong enough to hold himself yet. They also have these long rubber ropes on sliders; the kids run and jump onto them and they slide about 20 ft to the other side. I've seen a few wipe outs on that side.

There are balance beams and tight ropes walks. The balance beams are at 2 and 4 feet. The tight rope walks are the same, but the 4 ft one has balancing ropes on both sides for safety.

Now that I'm thinking about it, his daycare has a 9 foot slide for the 4-5 year old class....So, definitely not the status quo around here.

Lady Heather - posted on 07/22/2011

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YES. All the fun stuff is being taken out and replaced by crap. I can't even find a merry-go-round anymore. So we fell off them a bit. Big whoop. It all started when they invented those plastic covers to go around the chains on the swings (thus rendering them untwistable) and it's only gone downhill from there.

The other big piss off around here is they remove the old stuff because it's "not safe" and then they tell the schools they can't have new stuff until they fund raise for it. Seriously.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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Oh and thinking about that, made me realize I lied. haha. I've seen the "too safe" jungle gyms, just not out here. In the city they are around in a few places.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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Marina,

I've never seen a toddler one that has drop offs like that when we were in the city. Where we are now, it's one big set and all the kids play on it.

THe toddler ones in the city were maybe 3 ft off the ground, had X &O's to play, a ships wheel and then had a bridge to walk over, two slides on the other side of the bridge. It was lame. LOL

I should also add, that when I had my first I was a huge time hover parent - I still lean that way with some things. But after 4 kids and 11 years in, I'm relaxing a lot. Kids are resilient and can do a lot more than we realize, if we let them.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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Oh! Dyan's post reminded me of a vacation a few years ago when we went to BC.

We stopped at a road side thinger. The enchanted forest. On one of them things inside, there was a slide. It wasn't overly large - maybe 6ish ft. It was fast though, we didn't know. Our son (2 at the time) went down it. He came so fast though he went right past my husband who was waiting at the bottom because it did have a fairly big drop for such a short lil guy. He landed right on his back, winded himself but he was ok. He got back up and went again.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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Our playhouse at home has a 5 foot drop off open end. Our kids have never fallen off it either. They know how to play safe.

Amie - posted on 07/22/2011

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I've never noticed. I'm not overly concerned by it either. The playground equipment my kids use are huge. They have spiderwebs to climb on, a 12 foot high slide with these discs you walk up to get to or you can go around the other way and come up through the entire jungle gym. They have 6 ft slides for the smaller kids.

The kids play all over them. They even have the "old" completely metal jungle gyms, igloos and what not.

I'm sure some places seem like they're "too safe" but I haven't seen them. Even at that, parents don't let their kids be kids. Our 2 yr old will stand at the top of the slide, hold onto the bar above the slide and swing herself out over the slide. =/ Damn near gave me a heart attack when she first did it but I'm there, I see what she's doing and she's never even almost lost her grip. She swings a couple times then sit and slides down.

Corinne - posted on 07/22/2011

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Yes! Playgrounds are way too safe these days. The highest slide I've found in my home town is 4ft6in, when I was little there was an 8ft and a 12ft one. We have no see-saw, no tyre or rope swings, no monkey bars..... it seriously sucks! My kids are only 5yrs and 3yrs old and both get bored so easily. Our best park has three different areas, each one aimed at different ages and abilities, but it's still not challenging enough even for my kids, where the hell am I going to take them in a couple of years time?

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