Why Shopping Online May Be The Only Truly Safe Summer Activity

Summer –  the season of fun, sun, beaches, ice cream and blockbuster movie premieres – is also the most dangerous time of the year, according to the American Pediatrics Assn. Why? Well, because all of the things that used to be fun – and that all of us as kids enjoyed growing up – should now be the cause of great concern to parents everywhere.

The Myriad Dangers Of Summer – Beaches, Backyards And Bees

So just how dangerous is summer?  Well depends on where you are.

If hanging out at the beach is your preference, experts might have you believe that you should run away.

And not because swimming in the ocean in dangerous – though 3,500 people drown in the U.S. each year, and 20 percent of those victims are under the age of 14. And it’s not because getting a sunburn is dangerous, despite skin cancer being the most  diagnosed cancer in the U.S.

Nope – it’s the sand.

According to one parenting blog cited by a recent Wall Street Journal article, the EPA says it is no longer safe to dig in sand because of  potential contaminants.  It has not been possible to actually find that warning from the EPA anywhere, but Dr. Karl Neumann of the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against burying children in wet sand.

“Studies show that children playing in the sand are more likely to become ill than children merely walking on it. And the risk of illness increases with digging in the sand, being ‘buried’ in it, and digging in wet sand.”

And if you think you can get away with just taking a walk on the beach, think again.

Neumann advises against walking on dry sand because it could burn bare feet.  And, actually while on the subject, Neumann also advises wearing shoes – light sandal-like closed-toe shoes, because stubbed toes and puncture wounds are a risk.

So maybe the beach is a bad idea.

Then try a playground.  Just kidding.

According to Parents Magazine, “Walk away if you see cement, asphalt, dirt, or grass: These surfaces are linked to head injuries.”  So AstroTurf right?  Nope, knee injuries.  Wood chips? Splinters.

OK, no off to the backyard.

Sure.  But don’t wear anything floral. The science reporters at Parents Magazine report that since “bees are attracted to flowers,” it’s a bad idea to “put fragrances or floral-patterned clothing on kids.” Also don’t drink water from a garden hose, an all-time kid favorite. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found water from garden hoses contains  “PVC plastic additives, which can cause birth defects, liver toxicity and cancer.”

And actually, while we’re on the subject, don’t go outside that much either. .

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests  parents “limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours —  between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day” during summer vacation.

Kid going to day camp between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.?  Better make sure it’s indoors. Probably best not to take the risk.

If one must let their children outdoors during the summer – parents can buy a  Gululu, a smart water bottle that monitors how much water their child is drinking. An animated character on the bottle’s built-in screen encourages the child to drink more, and the device can even tell if a kid is drinking the water or just pouring it out.

But the studies also show that children who spend more than three hours a day looking at a screen of any kind are at enhanced risk of developing Type II diabetes. So remember that the time spent looking at a Gululu bottle does count against that screen time – and your kids will be spending a lot of time indoors this summer, so ration accordingly.

What To Do When Nothing Is Safe

Our first thought was that if parents – the most active group of consumers in the U.S. – were to actually follow the various bits of expert advice to parents on offer, the economy would crater.  No one would go on vacation, pools would go out of business, the children’s fashion industry would crumble and summer camps would be a relic of history.

Then we realized that the economy wouldn’t crater so much as shift.  Helmet sales would probably spike, as would pillow sales and perhaps bubble wrapping for the particularly concerned parents.  We also think that prescription drug medication and alcohol sales would reach new levels – as parents spend their summer trapped indoors with children all day rationing screen time might adopt, in earnest, the “better living through chemistry” mantra.

And with medical science’s extreme preference for people staying indoors, we also realized it could actually turn out to be a golden era for voice-activated eCommerce. Looking at a screen is dangerous, but so far no studies have linked talking to a voice-activated speaker to any sort of diseases.

And given that no one would go to the beach, play in the yard,  safely use any playground equipment or play video games for more than two hours a day – children nationwide will be looking for things to do.

Voice-activated speakers like Alexa, for example, tells jokes.  Plus they can even order themselves a  Gululu bottle for the bargain price of $129.

It was cheaper on Prime Day.

We’re not saying that Amazon has engineered a massive conspiracy to make eCommerce the only safe thing to do all summer long. That would be crazy – and besides, Amazon sells a lot of bathing suits, backyard play sets and bubble wands.  We’re totally sure they want us all to have fun in the sun this summer – as long as we buy the sunblock, coolers, bug spray, beach umbrellas, BBQ grills  and beach towels from them.

But if teeny, tiny bee-shaped drones start attacking children in floral-print outfits, we reserve the right to officially change our mind.




The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

Click to comment