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My kids hadn't actually asked for a hoverboard for Christmas, but I'd always thought they looked super cool. (read more)
Once I did a little research and found out they weren't exploding anymore, I decided a hoverboard would be the PERFECT gift for my 11-year-old.
If you've looked, you know there are about eleventy billion different hoverboards on Amazon right now. Wading through them to find the best one can mean hours of clicking, reading, and pondering.
I'm not that parent.
Give me a better than four star rating, a lot of reviews that don't say, "mine exploded", and I'm pretty much set.
That criteria led me to Swagtron's Swagboard Vibe.
Is Swagtron a good hoverboard? I mean, so far, yeah. But, as a parent, let me just tell the makers of this hoverboard that their name is really terrible. I mean, I almost didn't want to buy it because it had the word "swag" in it.
Now, let's talk safety.
ARE HOVERBOARDS SAFE?
If your kids have a bike, a skateboard, a scooter, or any wheeled thing that leaves most of your body unprotected as you zoom around, I'm going to say it's about as dangerous as those things.
Apples to apples, as long as this thing isn't turning into a little inferno in my kid's room while he's sleeping, it's much like any other toy of this type. It also has the same sort of learning curve.
I'm going to say it's a "bit" more dangerous than a scooter or bike, simply because those toys have handlebars. You get a little extra control on both of those, but I believe the hoverboard is easier to ride. I mean, if you can stand up, you can ride a hoverboard.
It's definitely no more dangerous than a skateboard. I've ridden both, and I've fallen down less on the hoverboard. Meaning, I haven't fallen down at all.
That's not to say my kids haven't fallen down, but it's been way less than when they learned to ride a bike. The falls don't involve a lot of metal you can get tangled up in either.
You can buy helmets and pads, of course. And, you can be like the other good parents out there and actually make your kids wear them after the first few times. My kids wore them for a half hour or so, and then the protective gear hit the toy box.
Really though, they don't ride on the street with this stuff, so if your kids are riding on the street, I'm going to recommend ALL the protective gear, just like with a bike, etc.
Heck, it's rained so much in the last five months that I'm pretty sure none of us are ever going outside again, so protective gear isn't an issue.
We have a slab on our front acreage where someone built a house, then tore it down before selling the land. It's really odd looking, but makes an amazing basketball court, bike path, colored chalk canvas, etc.
Mostly though, the hoverboard gets ridden in the house. Sometimes as intended, sometimes like this:
You see, very safe! Very, very safe, and used exactly as intended.
This is probably the part where I should release Swagtron of all liability if my kids get hurt. So as long as it doesn't blow up, Swagtron can consider themselves released.
ARE HOVERBOARDS SELF BALANCING?
They do self balance, and the hoverboard we have has a few helpful things built in to keep you from busting your butt when you get on.
The trick is to stay as still as you can. Don't freak out and start flailing around. This will cause the hoverboard to move, which will only make you freak out more.
So, stay still, be calm, make tiny movements until you get more comfortable.
Let's talk about getting on.
HOW TO STEP ONTO A HOVERBOARD
When in doubt, ask your kids. They're always willing to give it a shot.
According to Swagtron, the first trick is to put one foot on the hoverboard to trigger the sensor. At this point the hoverboard will enter self balancing mode so it doesn't fly out from under you when you put your full weight on it. So, place one foot on (your dominant foot), then wait a second and place your other foot on the other pad.
Once you're there, stand upright without leaning forward or backward. It'll move a bit as it corrects and responds, but you should basically stay in one place.
If you're worried about falling over, get on it while you're near something you can hold on to, like a couch or counter top.
Here's my 8 year old showing everyone how to get on a hoverboard like a pro.