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Links of the Day:

– Malls across the country and in Rochester have installed child play areas as a way to lure in moms and dads. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The once-humble play area is one of shopping malls’ new secret weapons. In their bid to keep shoppers from deserting to the Internet, more malls are adding restaurants and services like hair salons and fitness clubs that provide things that the Internet can’t. New play areas can create lively public spaces while keeping a key constituent—parents—happy.

Most malls are grappling with encroachment from online shopping and competition created by decades of retail overbuilding. As a result, malls “no longer can afford to be just landlords,” said Paco Underhill, founder and CEO of Envirosell Inc., which consults for mall owners and retailers. “They have to be place makers…”

I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. On the one hand, malls need to adapt and evolve and offer more than shopping to survive. On the other hand, the idea of spending childhood in a gated foam-filled mall playpen doesn’t sound so appealing.

A search of mommy blogs about mall play areas finds an obsession with germs, thankfulness they exist and concern about too many exits (because everyone wants to abduct your child). One Columbus, Ohio mom wrote her city is so cold, it’s great to have indoor play spots. (What happened to the days of donning a snowsuit and building forts?)

I’m so glad I was a child in the 80s.

– A University of Buffalo researcher found that the risks of fracking decrease with strong government oversight. But he still found one of four wells has an environmental violation.

– A Siena poll finds New Yorkers support medical marijuana.

– Many of you know I am a swimmer. Although I haven’t swum competitively since my days on the Maplewood Y swim team, I still swim about 2,500 yards three to four times a week. Turns out, one of my idols, Lynn Sherr, who often visits the Susan B. Anthony House, is also a swimmer and wrote a book about its benefits.

– The French First Lady kind of rocks. I don’t even think we should have First Ladies, after reading this. (By the way, French women age so gracefully, don’t they?)

6 Responses to Go Play at the Mall

  1. Wait. I’m confused: what is so undesirable about spending your childhood crawling around in foam soaked with various fluids of complete strangers of unknown vaccination status? Sounds like a fantastic way to build up one’s immune system…

  2. May 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm susan responds:

    Well, be glad your mother wasn’t obsessed with germs, and that I encouraged independence to the extent possible. You walked to school, sometimes by yourself, and you were given a quarter to walk to the store and buy a Popsicle. I encouraged you to learn how to take a bus when you were a teenager, wanting you to be resourceful. Sometimes I worried, but I figured that was my problem, not yours. I wanted you to think of the world as safe and engaging.. not a mean and suspicious place.

    Would I do the same things today?.. maybe, but maybe not.. with more media coverage of bad things that can happen.. it makes mothers more protective and children less independent.

  3. May 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm Matt responds:

    Rachel – I’d be curious to see how your point of view changes when you have kids.

  4. May 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm Nikki responds:

    Rachel I am sure you know how I feel about this issue! My daughter was injured at the play area at Marketplace mall in April. The mall has since come up with a covering for the rod iron railing, but she was covered in blood and no one at the mall was even there to help when this happened. So I think if this is going to be a standard in malls then there needs to be more precautions taken to make sure that injuries are a rare occurrence.

  5. May 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm bman responds:

    I am not sure this is a “new” concept. Greece Ridge and Longridge used to have many childrens areas with climbing pits and interactive art. All the foam? Blame liability lawsuits.

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