The New York Times Magazine's recent issue covers innovations that will change our near future. Terrifying playgrounds made the list, slated to arrive within the next two years.
At a time when seesaws, merry-go-rounds, and climbing ropes appear on the brink of extinction, it's a bit difficult to imagine the safety trend turning around. But two Norwegian psychologists are championing "dangerous" playgrounds, and play structure companies are following their lead...
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Leif Kennair and Ellen Sandseter write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology (pdf):
We may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.
Kids need places to work out their fears, the authors say, and challenging playgrounds can provide the perfect opportunity for such growth. They argue that modern Western society has an exaggerated focus on child safety, at the expense of kids' needs to figure out their personal limits.
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Opponents of riskier playgrounds have some strong numbers on their side. The Injury Free Coalition for Kids points out (pdf) that about 200,000 children a year need emergency care from playground injuries. In the year 2000 alone the total play structure injuries in the U.S. cost $11.3 billion.
Landscape Structures was forced to recall the above slide, the Slalom Glider, last year after 16 reports of injuries.
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