Three Exciting Yet Risky Activities That Pediatric Doctors Advise Children to Avoid

With the onset of spring, children are spending more time outside engaging in various activities. While some risks are part and parcel of growing up, as reinforced by a recent Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) study, certain outdoor games can lead to severe injuries like bone fractures and sprains.

Two pediatric emergency practitioners shed light on activities they recommend against, based on their professional experience and injury data.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

Statistics Canada reveals that ATVs cause an average of 100 fatalities annually, with people below 20 years comprising about 12% of these deaths.

“As a city dweller and pediatric emergency doctor, I wouldn’t purchase an ATV for my kids. They’re hefty, fast vehicles with the potential for serious harm or death,” says Dr. April Kam from the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Nathalie Schindler, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics, agrees, especially for children living in urban areas who lack the required experience and strength to operate ATVs.

“The CPS advises against recreational ATV usage, particularly for children under 16,” Schindler says, adding that the CPS Injury Prevention Committee is pushing for improved safety standards, especially for children using off-road vehicles.

Trampolines

At-home trampolines can seem like fun additions to backyards. However, more than 1,200 children on average are injured every year while using trampolines, states Parachute, a charity dedicated to preventing injuries.

Alberta Health Services advises against purchasing trampolines for home use after reporting 967 child injuries in 2021 alone, accounting for 60% of trampoline-related injuries that year.

When polled about activities they’d allow their children to partake in, doctors at CPS did agree that trampolines are a cause of concern. Missteps can result in severe injuries such as sprains, head and neck traumas, and broken bones.

“Using a trampoline may feel safer with padding and nets, but they do little to prevent injuries. The main causes of injuries are multiple jumpers, bad landings, and falling off the trampoline,” warns Schindler.

Electric Scooters

Electric scooters, a trend that returned in 2024, are fun but risky due to their battery-powered speeds of up to 24 to 40 km/h. Data from 2012 to 2019 shows 523 hospital cases involving e-scooter injuries. Injuries usually result from not wearing helmets and poor foresight while riding.

“Electric scooters are another item I wouldn’t buy for my kids. Injuries related to them include arm fractures and facial and head injuries,” Kam says, promoting non-motorized outdoor play for children instead.

As children venture outside to enjoy the spring season, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to be mindful of the potential dangers linked with certain outdoor activities. ATVs, trampolines, and electric scooters, while fun, present substantial risks, leading pediatric emergency doctors to advise against their use for children. It’s best to encourage safer outdoor activities that promote physical fitness and allow children to fully experience the joy of play. Being aware, careful, and educated can ensure these activities are healthy, development-friendly, and most of all, safe.

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