Kids Most At Risk: From “Dangerous Toys” or Immobility?

In a very rare moment, I was lying in bed with my two youngest daughters, searching On Demand for “Descendents” and while I was doing so, I heard some news anchor mention the words “toys” and “insurance” in the same sentence and it sparked my curiosity.

Now, I can’t tell you how Descendents turned out, I’m not perfect, you know, though they’ve been singing “They say I’m trouble, they say I’m bad, That makes me glad,” for hours now, so I’m going to check it out tonight, if I don’t crash too early, which is likely, because you know … kids.

But, I clicked play and I immediately went to Google to see if there really are toys that increase one’s home insurance policies, and believe it or not, there actually are toys that your insurer hates! But they don’t exactly increase your fees, so much as eliminate your policy … or so some alarmists would have you think.

Among the top ranking toys supposedly despised by insurers are the season’s hottest holiday toys — a folding indoor trampoline for 6-year olds and a hoverboard, similar to a Segeway but without the handlebars.

These two items made the short list of “most dangerous toys” according to World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.), a self-proclaimed US based consumer watchdog.  According to W.A.T.C.H. both these toys pose an increased risk to head and neck injuries.

The manufacturer for the hoverboard, PlaSmart, however, has stated that the toy has been on the market for 8 years without an incident and the Toy Industry Association maintains that the industry is meeting or exceeding stringent federal safety standards.

All that being said, the “experts” who aren’t named warn that if you do purchase one of these two items, a call to your insurance agent is in order, because, they warn, that the insurer will likely cancel your policy when it’s up for renewal.  So that begs the question … “why would I call?” … exactly?

Never one to ignore my curiosity, I googled W.A.T.C.H. and a quick glance at their website left me skeptical, at best. Listed 2nd in the list of Most Dangerous Toys is a foam dart gun, not NERF, but like NERF.  The group warns “HAZARD: REALISTIC TOY WEAPONRY! W.A.T.C.H. OUT.”  

Please.

The next toy is the dreaded indoor trampoline for kid 6 & Up.  This is what the group has to say about it:  “Warnings: “CAUTION: Performing any physical activity presents a risk of injury.

Again, please. They are cautioning against physical activity …  “performing any physical activity presents a risk of injury”?

I wonder what kind of childhood they lived because everything from bikes to Easy Bake Ovens poses a level of risk.  It’s managing these risks that makes all the difference.

Today’s children live in a bubble, with hovering parents, teachers and so many rules and “watchdog” groups that warn against physical activity … of all things.

Whereas, most of us of childbearing age and older have great memories of our childhoods.  When I was a kid I spent every summer at the pool and on my bike getting to and from the pool.  Occasionally I’d bring my tennis racket and play tennis on the court next to the pool, but mostly I was at the pool.

In the winter we spent the entire winter, when we weren’t in school, sledding and building snow forts and snowmen.  I went skiing with our church a couple times per year and loved it … so much that when I grew up and started having a family, we moved to CO so we could snowboard as often as physically possible.

Obviously those days filled with freedom as a kid really shaped my view of the world and it shaped my future and worldview.  

When I met Dan, who grew up running through the woods, in caves and causing mayhem and trouble everywhere he went, we clicked.

Dan loved to camp. He liked the idea of relying on himself and the environment to survive. He didn’t do campgrounds, he packed essentials and hiked wayyy out.  Now, I wasn’t a big fan of camping, believe it or not, as I was really a city girl, but he was super HOT and super COOL and I was totally in love with him the minute I met him and camping was something he and his brothers and his friends loved to do.  So, naturally, my friends and I we started camping too.  

I grew to love it.  And I’ll never ever forget New Years Eve 1993 when Dan picked me up at my house (4 hours away from college and from him) after my dad died.  He took me camping, of all things, up on Skyline Parkway in VA.  It was freezing, it was sooooo freezing you guys, but it was such a welcome distraction of familiarity.

Unfortunately, these kinds of memories are non-existent for so many kids today.  Video Games, Smart Phones, Television, Day Care, School, After School Care, homework, the mall, adult directed activities, tutoring, organized sports, studying, chores etc are all eroding the amount of free play our kids get.  And the research is clear that the increase in childhood mental disorders, increased suicide rates, increased stress and anxiety levels and overall declining health is directly related to the lack of play our kids get.

When playing, children learn to take responsibility for themselves and learn that life is challenging and that challenge can be fun.

Take for instance learning to snowboard.  You fall a lot the first few times you are up there.  You fall so much, you are sore for days.  But, it is fun and when you finally get to the bottom of the run and you look back up to where you started you feel great.  Then, after about 3-4 days of continuous crashing, you ride a run for the first time without falling … you feel accomplished, you feel proud.  Kids learn from playing that hard work pays off.  They learn to take pride in themselves and their successes.

Play also teaches children how to negotiate and get along with people.  I read a great quote the other day which specifically led to the idea of this blog: “Tantrums might work with parents, but they don’t work with playmates”!  Absolutely!!  Whereas I would step in to settle an argument or err on the side of the younger, tantrum throwing child, for peace and quiet, kids are often the most fair judge and jury!  

Can you imagine the type of kids we would raise if we fed all our fears of safety.  Be smart, be responsible, but we have to let our kids test their limits, we have to let them push boundaries or they will never learn, they will never realize their full potential!  

Go outside.  GO OUTSIDE!! Go outside.  That was the mantra of my parents, Dan’s parents and all the parents before them.  It’s my mantra as well.  With us, without us, we send them the heck outside.   Make them put down the remote or the laptop or the controller and get the heck outside.  Let play be their schooling, their anxiety drug, their weight loss regimen, their counseling.  Whatever, just open the door and send them out and just bear witness, be quiet, stop all the “be careful” words that come out of your mouth.  Let them be.  Let them discover.

1 Comment

  • I agree wholeheartedly with this! Let the kids play outside and explore. Playing in the dirt strengthens their immune systems. 🙂

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