Why safe playgrounds aren't great for kids

Why safe playgrounds aren't great for kids

There’s a case for making playgrounds riskier.

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The stereotypical modern playground — with its bright colors and rubberized flooring — is designed to be clean, safe, and lawsuit-proof. But that isn’t necessarily the best design for kids.

US playground designers spent decades figuring out how to minimize risk: reducing heights, softening surfaces, and limiting loose parts. But now, some are experimenting with creating risk. A growing body of research has found that risky outdoor play is a key part of children’s health, promoting social interactions, creativity, problem-solving, and resilience.

Some communities are even experimenting with “adventure playgrounds,” a format with origins in World War II Denmark, where bomb sites became impromptu playgrounds. Filled with props like nails, hammers, saws, paint, tires, and wood planks, these spaces look more like junkyards than play spaces — and parents are often kept outside of the playground while children are chaperoned by staff. Now, that question of keeping children safe versus keeping children engaged is at the heart of a big debate in playground design.

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  1. Roman Ketels on June 27, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    We would just climb to the top of the domes

  2. yyooimu on June 27, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I wish i had this when i was a kid tho, like I bet id be more confident, playful and creative 😕

  3. alek on June 27, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    I remember my mother telling me stories about in the 1980s in Poland where she would play in construction sites and no one would care

  4. tropical tantrum on June 27, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    The way we got creative when we were little wasn’t by going to a playground regardless if it’s “safe” or “dangerous”. We just played without/limited toys. By toy I mean sometimes, it’s literally a chalk or a stick, maybe a ball. We had no phones or iPads or game consoles (not that these existed at the time). Just using our imagination, playing with our friends, and making up game out of nothing.

  5. Yuraichu on June 27, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    **kid stabs other kid with screwdriver**

    Me as a parent: *Welps.*

  6. BeamingBetelgeuse XD on June 27, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    I’m sorry but I don’t want my 2 year old daughters head to get banged in

  7. Yuri on June 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    It’s all fun and games until…
    -They start fighting with stuff involved
    -Anti-vax kid steps on rusty things or play barefoot
    -Build to the literal height limit, only to fall inside of one barrel or something.
    Please expand this list, thank you.

  8. Aaron Ramsey on June 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    *Builds Bomb Shelter*
    It’s safe

  9. Grace Larson on June 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    The point about overly safe playgrounds leading to kids seeking out dangerous thrills the structure can’t provide is an important one – I remember as a kid that playgrounds were always SO BORING and me and my friends ended up balancing along the rails or climbing on top of the roofs or tunnels so we could jump down. "Safe" playgrounds arent actually safer, they’re just boring and unstimulating

  10. Eli Doubleday on June 27, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    0:15 guy in red shirt kneeling next to world’s smallest man

  11. Enrique Herrera on June 27, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I think that a compromise between risk and safety should be used. You need a space where kids can invent, experiment and have fun while dads can rest assured knowing that their kids will come back home with their two legs intact

  12. AJArtz on June 27, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    I have been to one of these and they are wayyyy more fun than regular playgrounds

  13. Bella Tries on June 27, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    I just kept thinking what if those kids had a fight with those hammers and tools. I couldn’t focus on any other logic besides that. 🙃

  14. Morse Code Reviews on June 27, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Yeeea right, half the kids parents here in murica got their tikes living in a bubble. They’d be all up in a tizzy about how they don’t want "their" children playing in such an "unsafe environment."

  15. Julius Khan on June 27, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    There was this one bully at my school, his name was Evan. He would have killed someone if was given a hammer ..but hey these look fun

  16. Trash King on June 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    *"there’s no evidence that this is better or safer for children"* THEN ACT LIKE IT

  17. nyxxie023 on June 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Yep. Reminds me when I was a kid.

  18. WakePvP on June 27, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    This would be lit

  19. Random Being on June 27, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    America:more guns than people
    Also America: _NaiLs ArE uNsAfE_

  20. Cris Burke on June 27, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I’m 19 and I would still love to go to a junk playground

  21. KdDial on June 27, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    Basically real life Minecraft

  22. Archerfish Johns on June 27, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    Hey. Tis fun tho

  23. Julie Smith on June 27, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Yeah I think this would fail in 2019 because we have phones and iPads and video games lol

  24. Bruh my booty hurts Lol on June 27, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Humans became so domesticated that kids can’t even have fun anymore

  25. beth01 on June 27, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Things in the playground fandom are heating up

  26. 10fighter55 on June 27, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I used to have competitions with my friends to see who could keep their hands on the hot metal the longest

  27. Ruby the meme gurl :3 on June 27, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    This is Sandra

    She has a baby

    👶🏻 🍼

    1 like= 1 vaccine for some kid who needs it

  28. sharkrunaway on June 27, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    Honestly though the moment these types of safe playgrounds started popping up around my neighnourhood was the moment I stopped playing outside. I miss being able to ride my mountain bike through the bushes and climb. I’m 22 now and I would still play outside like that if places like this existed where i live.

  29. Iron - [GD] on June 27, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    *risky playgrounds are safe*
    Me: Excuse me what?

  30. Fire of Jagz on June 27, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Kids today are growing up too safe indeed and it’s dangerous

  31. Chris Plays 020509 on June 27, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    It would be cool to have a playground
    Where you can maybe have a medieval war or such.

  32. Sloppy Beaner Boi on June 27, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    You gave to factor in minorities selling drugs the kids and stealing things that aren’t bolted in a white town tho sure it would work

  33. Midnight Music on June 27, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    So theres science behind why i hated the SAFE school playground! (I just got out of elelmenty school)

  34. that's zion on June 27, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Kids need to get hurt, it’s apart of the expirience.

  35. GamerDominic on June 27, 2019 at 9:05 pm


  36. benis on June 27, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    why is that one kid so big? 0:15

  37. Elmond Wilson on June 27, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    We need more By Design

  38. Hot Sauce animations on June 27, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    I agree growing up I never enjoyed playgrounds, bur crafting and building was way more fun

  39. nicholas belen on June 27, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Alright so the city museum in st louis meets all those requirements. Best museum ever

  40. LadyDiana on June 27, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    In the begning at the video: We have that in Denmark?
    The video: In Copenhagen.
    Me: Ha! I knew it!

  41. Dlimsy on June 27, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Everybody gangsta until the mental kid crafts a gun

  42. Tomas Armellini on June 27, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Mr Krabs predicted this

  43. N3O on June 27, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    I love the edits in these videos

  44. Diggity Ducc on June 27, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    I agree 100%

  45. Nu'est and LOVE Ren's wifey? idk on June 27, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Either way, I’m gonna injure myself and come back home to a bloody leg. Or a very roughed up hand with splinters and the occasional dirt.

  46. sterling silver on June 27, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    I been telling u

  47. Ruby the meme gurl :3 on June 27, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    Oh, so we gonna be in dangerous ones?

  48. AkaiSora on June 27, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I wish I experienced it because I badly need some carpentry skills.

  49. eharri on June 27, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    I live in England and my primary school had two adventure playgrounds hidden in different parts of the woods. It was amazing and so much fun as a kid because it felt like we were exploring the woods and discovering new activities

  50. Ban Y E E T os on June 27, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    And then there’s video games