Experts Say Playground Choice Matters In Child’s Social Development

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Experts say the playground you choose makes a difference in your child’s social development — and say parents should choose wisely.

But some parents, grandparents and caregivers believe kids can have fun anywhere, just as they did growing up.

“The old ones are just as good,” said grandparent Denise Bostick. “I learned how to play on the old time ones.”

So licensed clinical social worker and preschool owner Nyla Kamlet decided to explore local playgrounds to see how they affect the children’s quality of play.

“I wanted to see if the equipment made a difference in the quality of the kids’ play,” Kamlet said. “Were they more interactive together? Playing together or alone in a more modern playground?”

Kamlet discovered that children playing at more modern playgrounds have a better chance to learn and grow.

Kamlet says she prefers the one on 110th Street in Harlem. At this playground, water creates an element of surprise, bridges and ramps promote motor skills and slides and swings foster balance and coordination.

Kamlet says the most crucial development of these skills happens before a child turns six.

But at a more traditional playground about a quarter of a mile away, Kamlet notices children playing alone. They seem happy, but she says they don’t have the right opportunities.

The modern playground, however, creates a desire in every child, even a toddler, to play longer with children of all ages.

Some of the parents choosing the more traditional playground say they shy away from the other one due to its innovative equipment and risk for more injury.

“We just came from that park and we switched over here,” said Elise Alvarado. “I was nervous with him climbing on the rocks. and he kept asking for help because he couldn’t do it.”

Alvarado admits she goes to the traditional playground, mostly because it’s just easier. But had she’d known which playground you choose may make that much of a difference she’s rethinking her plans for tomorrow.

Kamlet says that as a mother, she knows the convenience is key, but suggests going to new neighborhoods and trying other playgrounds as an extra boost to your child’s development skills.