Trampolines are a fun part of childhood. You may remember your own experiences with trampolines and worry about your children taking the same risks. Trampolines have come a long way since their beginnings, and now your child can even have one indoors.
Indoor trampolines have their perks, but are they safe? Anything can be dangerous with misuse, but could an indoor trampoline actually be an accident waiting to happen rather than the fun activity you know and love? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help you decide if this is right for your household.
The benefits of indoor trampolines
Trampolines are a good exercise for children, especially if you don’t have access to an outdoor yard. Jumping on a trampoline helps release energy and frustration while keeping the heart rate up. It’s a terrific cardiovascular exercise, and there’s a reason trampolines had a fitness heyday.
Trampolines are also great for children’s perception and motor skills. Jumping targets the vestibular nervous system, the system that provides information to the brain about position and spatial awareness.
As children jump, they learn to feel where their body is with a rapidly changing surface. It requires them to coordinate their core, muscles, and feet in a way that contributes to overall balance and coordination.
Jumping may also be beneficial for focus. Some studies show that the act of jumping helps the brain to relax because of the physical activity, but it doesn’t tax the body in the same way running or jogging would.
Instead, it’s a low-impact exercise with a lot of physical benefits for kids as far as practicing coordination, heart health, and focus. Mini trampolines give children the chance to benefit without requiring a lot of space.
The downsides to indoor trampolines
There are significant downsides to indoor trampolines if your child is under the age of 6. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should never have a trampoline if they are under this age because the risk of injury is high.
While most of these recommendations are actually for outdoor trampolines, an indoor trampoline can be just as dangerous. Young children don’t have the coordination or ability to manage a trampoline, and this can cause them to flip over or fall off with vigorous bouncing.
Indoor trampolines can sometimes come with an attached handle, giving children something to hold onto while they jump. This is an improvement over a standard indoor trampoline, but children can still damage teeth or misuse the trampolines without proper supervision.
Many organizations are worried about the lack of proper data to help parents make the right decision. Trampoline statistics tell us only part of the picture, and even fewer statistics exist for indoor trampolines.
While you can expect a few risks during childhood, it’s essential to understand the risks and hazards. If you have more than one child, an indoor trampoline could prove more trouble than it’s worth. Same if your child is very young or has developmental delays.
Trampoline risk is hard to quantify
The biggest problem with trampolines is that we can’t quantify the risk adequately. We can find out how many children visited the hospital due to a trampoline accident last year, but we don’t know how many children had access to trampolines or how long they jumped.
Many of the statistics for trampolines are tied to large outdoor trampolines, where children are more likely to jump with many other children at the same time. Injuries from falls or crashing into each other are some of the most common, along with doing dangerous tricks.
Indoor trampolines may pose less of a risk because they’re designed for only one jumper, and they’re much closer to the ground. There is no room to do significant tricks.
However, the dangers could still be an issue because indoor trampolines are more accessible. They’re in your living room or your child’s room, ready for play at any time of the day. Parents are also less likely to supervise vigilantly because they perceive the risk to be minimized.
Keeping indoor trampolines safe
Your child can get some physical and mental benefits from a trampoline, but the best policy is to create boundaries around them. If you decide to bring an indoor trampoline into your home, consider a few rules first.
Instead of putting it in your child’s room, consider keeping it in a central area where you can put it up or down. Your child will have access to it when the time is appropriate and reduce injury due to a lack of supervision.
Never allow more than one child to jump unattended, and always ensure that all children know the rules. Watch weight limits and use the trampoline away from sharp or hard surfaces where your child can fall.
That being said, even in a common area, you should always supervise usage. Make sure your child is with you and that you can stop the activity if your child is engaging in risky behavior. Also, talk with your child about what is OK and what isn’t.
Wait until your child is older
Waiting a few years till your child isn’t a toddler and has more coordination can help minimize risk as well. Try to wait until your child is at least 4 before introducing an indoor trampoline, or use one with a handle for much younger children.
Risks can happen no matter what
Indoor trampolines can be a beneficial form of exercise for your child and could help get those wiggles out on rainy days. However, you must always supervise trampoline use and be aware of the risks involved.
An indoor trampoline used correctly can help your child develop coordination and spatial recognition and ensure that they have a way to exercise in a small space. They’re highly useful, but you must take the time to consider the risks. Trampolines are not a simple decision, so tread lightly.
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