trampoline safety net

It's a raging debate, to net or not to net! Depending on where you look online you are likely to get very different perspectives. There is a wide spectrum in the public opinion! So what advice should we listen to as parents wanting to do the right thing? And please share your opinion too by commenting.

 

As with every subject, there are many sources of information available. You do need to be discerning with what you read however. On the topic of whether kids should only use trampolines with a netted enclosure you can read everything from, "don't let your kids even look at trampoline" to, "ah, she'll be right - kids will find some way or other to hurt themselves". So let's unpack the issue further.

 

Trampoline use has benefits

At #KidsOffCouches we’re serious about inspiring our kids to take up active activities, so of course we want to share the benefits of jumping on a trampoline. Bounce Inc. has published on the benefits, reporting that NASA has found that bouncing on a trampoline for 10 minutes is a better cardiovascular workout than 33 minutes of running. The trampoline absorbs 80% of the shock from the rebound making bouncing a much lower impact exercise than running or playing court sports.

 

There are heaps of benefits that we’d love to blog all about another time. It’s worth mentioning here that we can’t hide our opinion – we love trampolines! We are interested in hearing differing opinions though and comments from all angles of the debate are welcome.

 

Trampoline use involves risk

Yes. It does. So does riding a bike, climbing a tree and negotiating a staircase. Risk is an everyday occurrence and consideration. Risk mitigation is the key; there are 5 steps for hazard control.

 

1 - Elimination: physically removing the risk.

2 - Substitution: choosing a different activity altogether.

3 - Engineered Controls: doesn't remove the risk but builds something physical to isolate people from it.

4 – Administrative Controls: making rules or guidelines for how people operate to stay safe.

5 – Personal Protective Equipment: wearing something to prevent incidence of accident or reduce impact of injury. Let’s look at each step at is relates to trampoline use and whether or not having a net in place could help.

 

Trampolines are banned

Elimination of the risk isn’t a net or no net question –it’s trampoline or no trampoline. Denying trampoline use would eliminate trampoline injuries. Correct, but none of the benefits of trampoline use could be enjoyed either. If you take this hard-line approach your kids won’t enjoy the physical fitness benefits that come from bouncing or the fun and exhilaration of springing upwards, momentarily defying gravity’s pull. And just because you've eliminated one risk there are plenty of ways kids can hurt themselves. We certainly don’t recommend throwing out their bicycle or disallowing tree climbing.

 

Something instead

If bouncing is important then perhaps there are other ways kids can do this without a trampoline. The good old pogo stick could provide some release. Bouncing castles are another way, but guidelines for use and supervision definitely still necessary. The most common cause of trampoline injuries is falling off (more coming on that) but the second is kids colliding with one another according to a Wiley press release on the subject. So remember to keep a watchful eye on small children wherever they’re bouncing.

 

Netting enclosures

An engineered control that has sought to minimise the risks of jumping on a trampoline is the netted enclosure. Pretty genius innovation. If the most common cause of trampoline injury is falling off then a net stands right in the way of this happening. The Wiley press release identifies two possible unintended downsides to the introduction of the net. One is that parents might be “lead to believe the risk of injury is less so constant supervision is not as necessary,” says Monash Injury Research Institute’s Karen Ashby.

 

The other issue with nets is “the possibility that older children and teenagers attempt more risky manoeuvres when netted enclosures are in place.” Ms Ashby said. In either case our job as parents is to coach and guide our kids on using equipment sensibly and safely to get the most enjoyment long-term.

 

You may, you may not

So we get to administrative controls. Sounds a bit heavy, but this really just means setting some guidelines for trampoline use. Rules like, one bouncer at a time, which has the added, valuable lesson of teaching kids patience and waiting for their turn. Such guidelines are going to be different for kids at different ages.

 

Safety equipment

That’s it, wrap them in bubble wrap and strap on a helmet! And that’s just to spectate trampoline jumping… Ok, we’re kidding here. Trampolines with a netted enclosure and padding over all hard surfaces are all the personal protective equipment needed. Kids should take off their shoes before jumping. That’s to protect the trampoline though!

 

Over to you

So what do think on the matter? This is a hot topic obviously, with lots of different opinions. We’re interested to know how your kids have enjoyed using trampolines with and without netting and how comfortable you have been watching them bouncing away. Also, how many parents are taking their own shoes off and testing out the new trampolines?

 

At Kids Off Couches we’re interested in community conversation so please share your comments and keep the discussion going.

 

Jump back to the #KidsOfCouches Community page here.