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Blog: Have We Taken the Fun out of Play for Kids?

Too many rules, regulations and overly protective parents have taken much of the fun out of play.

Is child play becoming too safe?

A recent interesting Wall Street Journal article has been picked up around the internet: "Experts Warn Playgrounds Have Become Too Safe." The report cited some child-development experts and parents concern much fun is missing from play and playgrounds. Over-protective helicopter parents along with fear of liability for injuries has limited the excitement of play and playgrounds.

A recent study indicated more than half of Los Angeles Unified School District students were overweight. One in three students were at risk of future medical problems negatively impacting their effective involvement in the workforce.

Instead of running around a playground these students sit, watching TV or engaged in computer games. 

It would be wise for parents, educators, community leaders and others to carefully review the impact of rules and regulations governing students play. Adult concerns must be moderated to keep the fun in the physical activity playground games provide.  Eliminating 'tag' games on playgrounds in my opinion reduces the opportunity for kids to safely run, play hard, chase and tag. 

Bill Habermehl retired as superintendent for the Orange County Department of Education earlier this year.

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randy December 06, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Penny, did he say anything about replacing new playgrounds needed at schools? I was wondering if it is part of his district board meeting agenda. Timeless for being kids, they deserve the playground life.
Penny Arévalo December 06, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Not really. He said the challenge now is updating and maintaining the facilities we have now, a lot of which has been neglected throughout the state's financial crisis.
Billy stempson December 07, 2012 at 07:43 AM
Natural play is an essential part of the development of young people. We have limited their opportunity to develop asses risks and know their own boundaries. Children and youth need to have opportunities to learn what they are capable of, both mentally and physically. Our playgrounds and parks are not enough. Young people need to get out into nature, go hiking, go to camp! There are more studies than those referenced here that point to improved test scores and social skills when young people spend time in natural environments! Send your kids to camp, scouts, or anything that gets them outdoors. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you!
Chris McLaughlin December 08, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Thanks Mike! You got any ideas for improvement?? It seems like a real loss of a sense of safety in the community is what keeps most parents (Moms more than Dads) from letting their kids play outside, and I think it's really unfounded. I think our community is extremely safe, and yet many go around like there's violent criminals and dangerous areas everywhere you turn. Not to sound too old, but back in my day we were free to roam within at least a 2-mile radius with just our bikes, with no helmets or cell phones, from after breakfast to sunset/mid-evening, especially in the Summer, and we all survived. What happened to happy, healthy childhood in this country??
Shripathi Kamath December 08, 2012 at 01:12 AM
"but back in my day we were" Every generation bemoans the lost youth. Why does one look at "back in the day" as the gold standard? You do not have the same "freedoms" because the world has changed. Life has gotten better for many. More people live longer. Did you have gyms back in the day? As ubiquitous as they are now? Why not adapt? Your kid cannot play in a park like you used to. She needs exercise. Take her to the gym. Work out with her. An hour at the gym will get you fit(ter), and her too. Far healthier than playing three hours in the mud that you obviously no longer have the time for. And if you cannot spare an hour three times a week to work out with your kid, "back in your dad's days" he would have time to play catch with you. A lot more often. Just like the world changed for playing catch, it also changed with more efficient ways to get that exercise. Time on the other hand ticks just as fast. So rather than bemoan that parks are no longer parks of generations past, find a gym. Yes, I understand that gyms are boring. Your kid can be fitter than you were playing three hours in the sun and can enjoy her video games, too. When she is a parent she could post here complaining "back in my day, my dad and I used to go and work out...but my son is just into this martial arts ever since they made it totally safe"

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