Safety and play in the future
I’m 38 now with my own children, two girls. Since I was a child, the biggest change I have seen is safety. Play areas now have to conform to a wide range of regulations that primarily aim to make them safer for our children. In some cases though, it could be argued that the focus on safety limits the risk so much that it defeats its play value. We need to ask ourselves whether this always the best policy? As a child I relished risk and I learnt from it. At what point does removing all of the risk prevent our children from learning important lessons about managing their own risk levels themselves?
Outside of the play areas we might appear to be open to more risk than ever, through exciting ‘adrenaline’ activities such as bungee jumping. Yet its controlled risk. For us it is out of our comfort zone, it triggers the adrenaline. But crucially, the safety and risk management is taken care of not by ourselves but by trained experts. Is this good practise? Or is risk management something that needs to be learnt, not avoided completely and taken out of our control? I love to ride my mountain bike. It is what I enjoy and I’m in control of it. Some days I will go for that jump and other days I won’t, but I learn from the falls, sometimes more than others!
How can we bring elements of the risk back to be learnt from, yet keep our children safe? We can’t always stop them hurting themselves, but I believe risk is a key life skill to understand, and something that is slowly making a reappearance in play areas.