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Kids need large motor activity every single day. Since we all know that time in spent in natural surroundings is enormously beneficial for physical as well as mental health, ideally our kids can run, climb, and play outdoors.
But outdoor play isn’t always possible. Not all of us have backyards nor are we such perfect parents that everyday is a park day. And there’s inclement weather to consider too. That’s why indoor playlands found in many fast food restaurants are so popular. Kids get some exercise plus they interact with other kids. In my family, our policy has always been to wash hands immediately after using such a facility because, come on, the places have to be crawling with germs as boisterous as the kids themselves.
Apparently, they are.
According to Dr. E.C. Jordan, lab tests show these places harbor strains of staph, coliform, listeria, and other nasties that have the potential to cause disease. Dr. Jordan says that cleaning protocols are not followed and as a result, the public is exposed to “dangerous germs and pathogens that can make children very ill and are potentially deadly.”
Personally, I’m pretty laid back about how the whole Big Bad Germ thing despite today’s hand sanitizer obsession. Studies have shown that raising children in overly clean conditions may be linked to an increase in asthma, allergies, and other conditions. That’s because without sufficient exposure to viruses and bacteria, children may not develop healthy immune function. Their bodies then overreact with extreme immune responses to normal stimuli in the environment such as pollen, food, or dust. Ironically, more time playing outdoors has been shown to build healthy immunity.
I’m also not a big fan of strong sanitizers and biocides used to kill many viruses and bacteria. I suspect kids are safer playing on surfaces washed with good old soap and water. But Dr. Jordan’s point is clear. Too many of these places don’t seem to be washed with anything.
What are your thoughts about the danger posed by nasty playlands?