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Is a Hightened Focus on Safety Detrimental to Children?

A heightened focus on safety might be detrimental to children’s development because it could cause them to be more anxious and less likely to take risks later in life. Many psychologists believe that removing playground equipment, such as tall jungle gyms, that has been deemed unsafe can actually make children more likely to have phobias of heights. This is thought to occur because the children have never been exposed to the risks of climbing and therefore never learn to gradually master and overcome such challenges. Supporters of this theory point to studies showing that kids who had experienced playground falls before age 9 were less likely to have a fear of heights as teenagers.

More about playgrounds:

  • One study found that 90% of urban preschoolers engaged in sedentary activities on the playground instead of active play.

  • Instances of arm fractures in children increased in Australia and Britain after playgrounds replaced hard pavement with softer surfaces. Psychologists believe this could be caused by a false sense of safety, which makes people more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

  • Children’s playtime decreased 25% from 1981 to 1997, research shows.

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