Playground Equipment for Teens

teens enjoy this playground equipment for social spinning
Teens enjoy these bigger types of playground equipment for fun times together. Photo credit: Makena G

Playground equipment for teens and adults comes in 5 types, allowing social and physical skills to develop in constructive ways.  This guide explains the considerations associated with playground equipment provision for teenagers, and provides advice on how to choose from what is on offer for improving outdoor play areas.

It is good to see that playground equipment that is designed for adults is appearing more and more in parks and outdoor play areas.  These awesome bits of kit at long last make up some decent adventure playgrounds and teen shelters that provide teens with somewhere to go outdoors for free. It is essential to be able to spend time outdoors socially with friends, show off and use up some of that pent up energy from the day. Teen playgrounds are great, but if you can have a multi use games area or MUGA that’s even better.  However it has taken a long time for teen playgrounds to be considered rather than just playground equipment for young children.

Playgrounds are only for kids

Local parks often only have a kids playground. When teenagers go on the swings, parents of the kids complain.  Teenagers get bad press for hanging around outside on street corners and other public places.  I must admit that some teens don’t do anyone any favours by the use of bad language, unruly behaviour and vandalism.  So what should be the way forward?

What teens are seeking is a place in their neighbourhood where they can meet up with others and do something together. If the council were to provide decent free open access places for teenagers to socialise, then the opinion of teenagers would improve.

Teens need to burn off their energy in a constructive way.  They rise to personal challenges, and boys in particular like to compete physically.  You might think that some form of fitness equipment or outdoor adventure playground would be good. The thing about outdoor adventure playground equipment is that it often gets damaged and then the whole playground gets condemned for months and eventually just gets removed leaving an empty space!

The design and engineering of playground equipment has led to more robust and sturdy play areas that require less maintenance and last substantially longer.  No more wooden structures that rot and collapse.

Types of Playground Equipment

There are five main types of playground equipment for teens:

  1. Playground equipment to test physical ability such as climbing frames and obstacle courses
  2. Fun playground equipment such as big swings and roundabouts
  3. Trim Trails
  4. Outdoor gyms
  5. Multi-Use Games Areas

Play Equipment for Teens and Adults Physical Ability

Ninja Warrior Course Playground Equipment for Teens at Howdershell Park, Hazelwood in Missouri
NuToys teamed up with Landscape Structures Inc to install this impressive Ninja Warrior course playground equipment for teens at Howdershell Park.  The course incorporates a range of obstacles to jump across, climb and swing from.  The end challenge is to climb a rope to ring the finishing bell.

Some playground equipment manufacturers can provide a Ninja Warrior type curved wall for finishing, where you have to run up the curved surface and climb to the top.

Obstacle course playground equipment for teens comes as set designs, or can be designed suit the needs of the specific play area.  The play surface underneath the play equipment is more often composed of a rubber compound.  Bark chippings are becoming a thing of the past.

Combine one of these climbing frames with a teen shelter and you have a good playground layout that will satisfy most teens and give them a constructive way to spend their leisure time outdoors.

Fun Playground Equipment for Teens

Snake Swing playground equipment for Teens

One of the attractions of meeting up with friends is to have some fun together.  Big swings like the snake swing in the photo above are easy to install and will get used in a variety of ways by teens.  Just sitting and chatting, gently swinging, or the extreme how high can you go swing.

An example of the best in breed playground equipment for pure fun is manufactured by Wicksteed Leisure Ltd in the UK.

Rotating playground swing for teensBasket Spinner Climbing Roundabout playground equipment for teens
The beauty of the Hurricane swing is that it is down to the individuals how fast they want to swing. The motion provided is quite a laugh. The basket spinner is a roundabout that combines spinning with climbing. There are several other variations on the market, such as a variety of hurricane swing that has a pivoting rotating joint at the top. This means that it can be used as a hanging seesaw as well as a swing, leading to a variety of ways to play.

Trim Trails

School trim trailTrim trails are usually made of sustainable wood to make balance beams and obstacles that can be used for exercise.  These differ from the obstacle courses in that their purpose is to provide activity stations for fitness and exercise.  Trim trails are modular and easy to install but do require maintenance to ensure that the wood is in good condition.

Outdoor Gyms

Outdoor gym equipment leg extension

Outdoor gyms appeared around 2010.  The Outdoor Gym Company in the UK provides these in playgrounds around the country.  The playground equipment is made from metal and uses a persons own body weight to act as the challenge for strength.  The image above shows a leg extension station.  You sit on the seat with your feet on the footplates.  By extending you legs you push the seat back and upwards.

Multi Use Games Areas

The best solution seems to be to make an outdoor play area for teenagers by building a multi use games area (MUGA). The best location for outdoor playground equipment for teens is on the opposite side of the playing field from the kids playground so that teenagers are less likely to play near young children and less likely to get moaned at.

Multi activity games areas consist of an all weather fenced pitch that can be used for basketball or football. It should include a teen shelter for young people to meet and chat while watching their friends playing. If there is one of those climbing walls, then the lads can show off their physical strength for their ladies.

Playground equipment for teens still seems to take second place over outdoor play areas for young children. Local councils should start building more outdoor play equipment for teenagers.  This will give young people something constructive to do instead of just wandering the streets aimlessly. In return, teenagers need to respect the money invested in them by the provision of outdoor play areas for youth. Vandalism is a huge waste of money which is paid for by all of the adults who pay council tax. By causing vandalism and graffiti, teenagers waste the very money that could be spent on providing playground equipment for them. At some point, hopefully teenagers will work this out and look after their own communities.

Others forms of outdoor play areas for teens and adults include Outdoor Basketball Courts.

If you have the skills, perhaps you could Make your own backyard playground.

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