Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Playground Risks

Today on his show, Charlie Sykes brought up playground safety. As if playgrounds haven't been simplified enough already in an attempt to "keep children safe," now there are complaints about the black rubber matting under the playgrounds being too hot ... and harming children. There's a really fantastic article by David Hinz that talks about playgrounds, and personal responsibility, and the bumps and bruises that come with kidhood.

So on Charlie's show today, discussion ensued about how this epidemic of obesity in kids has probably been caused in part by Keeping Kids Safe. It is "safe" for them to sit on the couch and eat potato chips and watch tv or play with their Gameboy. But it's not safe. Not in the long run. Kid need the physical exercise. But they also need the chance to take risks, to learn from their mistakes, to test their strength. Kids who are kept perpetually "safe" do not grow and develop into healthy adults.

There was one different thought that crossed my mind as I was listening to all this debate on Charlie's show while doing errands this morning. Kids love video games. They love them in a way that many middle-agers and senior citizens find hard to comprehend. What's the thrill? What do you find enjoyable about those video games? And you know what the answer from the kids usually is? It's something to master. It's a challenge. There is excitement in conquering the next level.

Video games are about the only place we let kids take risks anymore. But because they still NEED the risks and the excitement and the chance to conquer, they're now finding it in cyber-ways instead of in reality. And that's sad.

What's more damaging to a kid? Some bumps, bruises, cuts, and maybe even a broken arm from playing on a real playground? Or the personality changes that result from being kept safe-safe-safe all the time, and having to find excitement on a screen instead of in the real world?

1 comment:

  1. This is why I eschew (most) contemporary children's shows and fairytales. Kids need to be told a bit of tragedy. Not a lot, there's no need for a lot, but some.