Once ten-foot-tall, bare-bones metal contraptions set in bare grass or dirt have given way to colourful, shorter, purportedly safer (and less lawsuit-prone) wonderlands padded underfoot by materials such as rubber or wood chips.
But psychologists are raising concerns about the negative psychological impacts of these “safer” models even as studies about their physical safety benefits remain inconclusive.
Ellen Sandseter, a professor of at Queen Maud University in Norway says:
Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground. I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.She and other psychologists believe that protective playgrounds have the opposite of their intended effect: instead of making children feel safer, and therefore braver, they actually make them more anxious and fearful.
Read more here: ‘Safe’ playgrounds could be stunting emotional development