It was almost a right of passage when we were little — swinging off the monkey bars and scraping up our chins on the wood chips below. Today, your tot is more likely to get a minor rug burn than a scrape from the ground beneath the jungle gym, given that it is probably made from rubber. In the age of helicopter parenting (and a litigious society), cities and playground architects have erred on the side of caution when designing new play spaces for tots. The results, according experts quoted in The Wall Street Journal, are playgrounds with "cookie-cutter equipment that offers little thrill. The result, they say, is that children are less compelled to play outside, potentially stunting emotional and physical development and exacerbating a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity."
Reacting to such concerns, there is a growing movement to build more "provocative playgrounds" that offer a sense of thrill, or "the perception of risk" that help kids develop life skills in addition to the accomplishment of climbing to the top of the structure. The movement has already grabbed hold in Germany, Norway, and England, where some of the world's most exciting playgrounds exist, but it is running into obstacles in the US due to "litigation concerns and restrictive safety standards."
Based upon your experience on your local playground, would you agree that we've stripped our parks of the thrills that children need to experience?