A mall in Canada is so afraid of liability and noise that it has created an 'interactive play park', furnished solely with iPads. Parents are furious.
The Guildford Town Centre is a shopping mall in Surrey, B.C., that recently underwent a $280-million redevelopment. Part of that project was to ‘upgrade’ the children’s indoor playground to something that the mall’s spokesperson described as “new and unique.” The result, however, has horrified visiting parents.
Gone is the actual play equipment. There is nothing to climb on or play with. In its place is a wall of installed iPads and a few activity wheels for toddlers. This is the sum total of the so-called “interactive play park” that will, presumably, keep kids quiet and entertained.Unsurprisingly, parents are indignant about this change and have been flooding the Guildford Town Centre’s Facebook page with negative comments:
“This is the worst idea ever! Why would you do this? Your parking lot is more dangerous than a children’s play area!” wrote Mike McLellan.
“I checked it out yesterday. Big let down. Just what kids need is more screen time plastered in front of an iPad,” said Emmaline Bacchus.
“Don’t bother going, unless you weren’t planning on your kids actually playing and being social,” advised Vanessa Voth.
The mall defends its actions by repeating the same response – one that is sadly echoed in so many public spaces these days:
“We are pleased to offer a quiet play environment for children. In our experience, providing slides and things for climbing leads to much more active play and can result in children being hurt.”
It’s downright tragic that children’s mental and physical wellbeing must suffer as a result of adults’ litigiousness in today’s society. It stands to reason that kids who exercise vigorously, whether it’s through rowdy physical play or organized sports, are more prone to immediate injury than those who sit on the couch at home playing with an iPad, but why is so little thought given to the long-term health effects? A child is in far more danger of physical illness from a sedentary lifestyle than an active one. A broken arm heals pretty quickly; it’s harder to fight lifelong obesity.
As the years go by, it is becoming progressively clearer that access to screens is not the boon to child development that many people would like to think. There are too many screens everywhere, from multiple TVs at home and smart phones in every parent’s pocket to SMART boards in every single North American classroom. The last thing we need is replace the relatively few physical play spaces with yet more screens.
I hope the Guildford Town Centre listens to the flood of complaints it’s been receiving and realizes that it’s doing more harm than good to the children of its community by turning a playground into little more than a glamourized computer lab.