PLAYGROUNDS: Does safe equal boring

SAFETY-FIRST playgrounds bore children and discourage them from playing outdoors, new research has found.

An element of risk at play in schools and parks helps children become more active, the research finds.

University of Sydney health sciences professor Anita Bundy said this week Australian playgrounds were too safety conscious -- slides and swings placed barely above the ground in an effort to eliminate risk of falls and injury.

"Kids have to fall, have to scratch themselves and bruise and graze," she said. "That is how they learn what they can do and can't do."

Titled Popping the Bubble Wrap, her study showed children were 60 per cent more active when given loose materials such as tyres and wooden planks to play with instead of the usual prefabricated playground equipment.