In elementary school, the playground had metal equipment. My kids have seen some metal equipment at old parks and schools. And they’ve heard me cry out jokingly not to use it. haha. You’ll crack your head open. You’ll break an arm. I still let them use it, but I’m uneasy and a bit anxious over it. But I don’t prevent them from using it.

Yeah, the metal playgrounds were a far cry from the beautiful updated playgrounds that are around today. Modern playgrounds are mulched, have rubber foam matting and so many activities built-n such as seeking games, tic-tac-toe, crawl tunnels, climbing walls, etc. etc. In my city, some are gigantic wooden structures complete with castles, bridges, sand areas, etc.

I do have to wonder if playgrounds are too safe now. But when my first reaction is to caution my kids when they approach old metal equipment, it’s really a sign of the times that safety comes first.

There are still plenty of opportunities for safe yet risky play, in my opinion. One of our local parks has a roller slide. My first instinct was that one of my kids was going to get their fingers stuck in the rollers and lose a finger. They still enjoyed it with me twitching as I looked on. The same playground has an old-style metal merry-go-round (Oh no, one of my kids is going to fall off and get stuck underneath it or trampled by the kid running to make it go around) and net climber (I wince and think to myself please just stay on the lower levels) that look a lot scarier to me than the metal jungle gyms I played on.


Our playgrounds still have high slides (mentally thinking how far away the ER is from this park), tire swings (hang on tight and don’t put your hands near the lower part of the chain and turn mechanisms), parallel bars (Do your kids know the game called Popcorn? It’s banned from our school now) and monkey bars (um, do you want to go play in the sandbox instead?), too. Sure, they’re updated and safer. For example, the swings don’t seem to go really high anymore. Is that my imagination? I’m not sure.


No, I don’t keep my kids in a bubble or coddle them. And sure, sometimes I think about horrific possible injuries sometimes as I watch them play, but I don’t long for the days of old dangerous playground equipment. It’s just my natural mom instinct to want to protect them from harm.

My elementary school didn’t have much of anything. We had swings (if you were lucky enough to get one because there were only 4), a high slide (huge line of kids already on the ladder), a couple of jungle gyms and see-saws. I felt that I took risks because I was bored. Not because the older equipment was more fun and challenging. It’s ALL we had!

It seems studies seem to think modern equipment is too easily mastered and kids get bored. Well guess what? When I was a kid, you mastered the monkey bars and jungle gyms pretty fast because it’s all there was available! This created turf fights! Because we all could get to the top!


Sorry, but I do teach my kids not to climb UP the slide. I tell them monkey see, monkey do. Slides are to slide DOWN on. They don’t do it because they’re bored. They do it because a slide begs it to be done! They aren’t the only kids at the playground and I refuse to have my children responsible for another child getting injured. Plus, it’s basic manners to me.

They can still have fun without shoving in front of others or being playground bullies that think they own the place. There are so many activities and things to do at modern playgrounds, my kids have never been bored. They have places to hide now and their imaginations create new games and experiences. They can compete in the different areas, too. My modern playgrounds have spraygrounds and skate parks, creeks and woods, disc golf, rinks to skate on, bike trails, bmx bike tracks, hoops, tether ball, baseball fields, swimming, volleyball nets, horseshoes, etc. etc.

And the modern playgrounds are created for certain age categories, so if they want a bigger challenge, they can go to the higher aged sections with supervision. And while maybe some areas of the country have found playgrounds going unused, our city’s playgrounds are packed. Maybe it’s not the fact that the playground equipment is so easily mastered, as it is the fact that kids can’t go to playgrounds without 100% parent supervision these days. Playgrounds are competing with technology and organized sports, etc., too. And working parents! Many kids and parents are overscheduled and playgrounds rank low on their list of activities.

I wouldn’t be so quick to judge modern playgrounds. I am so impressed with the FREE playgrounds my kids have grown up with and enjoyed. Modern playgrounds have become family outings. When I see unsupervised children at the playground, I wonder where their parents are. I truly wish all children had the same opportunities to have such beautiful playgrounds and not be saddled with run-down, paint chipped and rusted out, unsafe metal playgrounds.

I love that the playground doesn’t mean you are covered in dirt afterward, too. Nothing wrong with dirt, but it’s awesome that we can go grab an ice cream or a bite to eat afterward and the kids aren’t absolutely filthy. One local playground even has an outside water source to wash up after playing. It has a faucet and a hose. It’s awesome. My kids can wash off their flip flops and hands.

I don’t feel like my liberty is being stripped from our lives. Kids take risks daily. It’s in their nature to explore. My kids try to sled down our stairs on a flattened cardboard box. Kids will SEEK out opportunities to take chances and discover and learn about their surroundings. Modern playgrounds offer calculated risk opportunities. Each city decides what type of playground equipment they include that fits current safety standards.

If your playgrounds are boring, speak up. Rally to get an adventure playground started in your area. Try to find that balance between what you miss and what is up to safety standards or ya know, go camping for that nostalgia. LOL But keep in mind, these playgrounds aren’t for you anymore. Unless you’re up to getting stuck in playground equipment. 

I love our local playgrounds. The upkeep is amazing and I’m proud of the different innovative selections of equipment from park to park and school to school. They are far superior than what I grew up with. They take into consideration that there are children/adults with disabilities, too.

If physical activity is down and obesity is up, it’s because parents aren’t encouraging physical activity. They aren’t role modeling or making these things a priority. It has nothing to do with our modern playgrounds and everything to do with parents making different decisions for their families.

Yeah yeah yeah, you never had to wear a helmet when riding a bike, no car seats and booster seats or child safety locks…Good for you. Guess what? Kids still break bones, get concussions and need stitches and die from tons of unintended risks. As a parent, I am happy to have additional safety measures for my kids. That doesn’t make me a helicopter parent. I do regularly check my privilege, though. We have over 80 parks in our little city.