It's probably not a problem you think about, unless you're a concerned parent, but children in America--besieged by longer school days, constant test prep, and budget cuts--have a "play deficit." The importance of taking some time to just go nuts on a playground to child development has been well-documented, but schools consistently cut recess and cities don't have the budgets to build new playgrounds, or even maintain new ones. What's a parent to do? Kaboom, an organization devoted to building playgrounds around the country, has recently released a new iPhone app to help solve the problem.
The app--funded by Parents magazine and developed by Kaboom partners SAP--works by crowdsourcing information about where playgrounds and located and what condition they're in. Once parks are in the system, users can rate the parks, add photos, and make notes about the best things to do there: "A harp-shaped spray shower is music to everyone's ears on steamy summer days, as are shady tunnels and bridges," reads one entry for a park in Brooklyn. If a park has splintery wood or dangerous equipment, you can note that as well.
You can even use the app to set up a play date with other kids at the same park or to find play dates happening near you. And, of course, the more you use the app, the more points you get, though as of yet, the points have no value. While it may not be enough to fix the problem, getting more information about local parks and playgrounds (or the lack thereof) will help shine a light on the problem of the play deficit, and maybe get more kids playing outside.
[Images: Top, Flickr user Martin Howard, Bottom, Kaboom]