Friday, March 28, 2014

Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

This article raises issue with the safety of playgrounds.  In the article Henry Stern New York City’s park commissioner in the 1990s created a 10 ft jungle gym in a playground.  There was some controversy over his ideas but today researchers also question the value of safety-first playgrounds.  In the article John Tierney writes, “these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.”  The articles continues to write that playgrounds with risk and heights are proven to reduce phobias later on life.  For example even if a 9 year old has an accident on a playground he or she is less likely to have a phobia of heights later on in life.  10 ft structures and risky structures are now largely removed from America’s playgrounds due to “parental concerns, federal guidelines, new safety standards set by manufacturers and — the most frequently cited factor — fear of lawsuits.”  Now playgrounds are rubberized and have lower platforms.  In the article the author writes, “risky play mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety, they write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, concluding that this “anti-phobic effect” helps explain the evolution of children’s fondness for thrill-seeking.”  


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