Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Trampolines? Yay or nay?

The kids' first time on a trampoline at a neighbor's house.
Some of the best memories of my childhood was jumping on my friends' trampolines in their backyards. We didn't have one ourselves (we had a large pool instead), but many of my friends had trampolines and we would spend hours jumping on them. My parents had a strict rule of no flips, but since I couldn't do one anyway, it didn't really matter to me. It was still just a lot of fun chasing each other around the bouncy mat and jumping as high as we could. I only once ever jumped off the trampoline unexpectedly, and I survived it.

Just this week, the AAP issued a warning about the dangers of trampolines. Lots of kids get injured on them, with or without the safety nets. But, how dangerous are they really? We were planning on getting one for the kids for Christmas (with a safety net of course)... should we forgo that plan or should we just exercise caution?

According to the report, most of the injuries are "normal" kid injuries like contusions (fancy word for bruise), fractures (broken bones), and cuts. There are some neck and head injuries, which are the most serious, but only account for about 10% of the visits. The question is, should we limit an activity that offers cardiovascular exercise in a fun and inviting way in the interest of protecting kids?

I am all for kids' safety. I make my kids wear helmets and knee pads on their scooters and bikes. I watch them diligently on playground equipment. Most parents that have seen me at the playground comment that I am very strict with them. I hate whenever they get hurt. But, at a certain point, ya gotta let kids be kids. Kids get hurt. They fall, they break arms, they get stitches, and all kids have bruises. The only way to prevent kids from getting hurt is by wrapping them in bubble wrap, keeping them sitting still, and handing them a controller. Oh wait... that might have its own negative consequences, not to mention they become obese from lack of activity. Now, I am not against video or computer games or even television. Like everything, I think it has its place and is part of a great childhood. However, I think it would be sad to take away other fun activities because they could get hurt.

Think of all of the activities where kids get hurt. Should we not let kids do monkey bars because they could fall? What about climbing to the top of a great big slide? That fall would be dangerous. What about riding scooters? They could tip over. Don't even get me started on skateboards (it definitely wasn't safe when I strapped myself to it, with no helmet, and had my brother push me down our steep driveway onto our street). For that matter, running. Have you ever seen a kid run down a hill? What about tumble down the hill while running. Or hiking. They might trip and fall and break their arm. Benjamin broke his arm when he was four by tripping over his sister's baby swing while walking slowly through our house. Maybe I shouldn't let him walk. Then there is the most dangerous of all activities and is one of the leading killers of young kids: driving.

Yes, I understand that I am being extreme and that walking doesn't hold the same dangers as a trampoline. I get that. But, in a nation where the obesity rate in children is climbing, where do we draw the line? I wonder what the rates of head and neck injuries in bike riding are. Or climbing on the playground.

With all of that being said, we are still considering getting a trampoline for Christmas. We will have a safety net because I don't want my kids to fall out unexpectedly. We will have padding to cover the springs. We will have basic safety rules like no pushing each other and no doing flips. We will not allow 500 children to jump at the same time, and will not allow bigger kids to jump with smaller kids. We will exercise caution, but I am not going to limit a cardiovascular activity that my kids are able to do and that they love. Like all activities that involve falls and potential injuries, we will watch them diligently.


1 comment:

  1. Have you read Free Range Kids or the blog ? She's always bringing up ridiculous "recommendations" and rules that have been put in place because of one off incidents or stats blown out of proportion. I say let kids be kids :)