Segway and Hoverboard Safety for Kids

Child having fun with an Two-wheel electric skate

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Not long ago, Segways and hoverboards seemed like futuristic oddities, something available only in the movies. Now, you're liable to spot them when going around your block or at your local park. There are even child-size versions available of these popular high-tech products. And kids are enthusiastically lining up to get them.

Segway's line of Ninebot KickScooters and related products are designed to be a safe, clean mode of transportation that benefits the environment. But with their two wheels, gyroscopic sensors, dynamic stabilization system, and electric motors, many people buy them simply because they're fun to ride. The same goes for hoverboards. This trend leaves many parents wondering if they should buy them for their kids—and if they're really safe.

What Parents Need to Know About Segways

Many Segway models aren't designed for children. Additionally, there is a significant risk of injury with the use of these products.

So, before you buy (or let your child ride) a Segway, be sure to check the product specifications, as many models are designed for adults and/or teens. For example, the Ninebot KickScooter ES1L is meant for people age 14 and older who weigh between 55 and 220 pounds.

Kids under 55 pounds may not be able to slow down or stop their Segway because they have to shift their weight back to stop.

Another safety issue for riders below the minimum weight or age limits is that they might fail to properly interact with the product's balancing system. The Segway miniLITE is intended for children age 6 and up who weigh between 20 and 80 kilograms (44 to 175 pounds).

To be safe on a Segway, especially if you are letting your kids ride, it is best to:

  • Always read product instructions and follow guidelines, including weight limits.
  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet when riding.
  • Have an experienced rider teach your child (or you) how to ride, turn, and stop, and spot them while riding for the first five or 10 minutes until they get the hang of it.
  • Start your kids out in a low-speed beginner mode.
  • Teach kids not to push a Segway past its limits, such as by continuing to lean forward when they get a Speed Limiter Alert, continuing to ride when they get a Stick Shake Warning, or riding on steep slopes and slippery surfaces.
  • Use the product in a flat area empty of debris or other hazards (including cars, pedestrians, and bikers).

And of course, always supervise kids so that they don't take extra risks while riding.

What Parents Need to Know About Hoverboards

Hoverboards are similar products that have great appeal for kids and adults—as well as significant safety concerns. Of course, these hoverboards don't really hover. Instead, they look like mini- or hands-free versions of a Segway.

Unfortunately, hoverboards have been known to cause fall injuries. The devices may also overheat, explode, or catch fire, which resulted in several product recalls in 2016 and 2017.

Do your kids have a hoverboard? If they do, make sure that you:

  • Charge it in an open area, away from combustible materials, and keep watch while the hoverboard is charging.
  • Do not let your kids use a hoverboard on or near a road.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using hoverboards in and around your home.
  • Have kids wear protective equipment when riding, including a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and wrist guards.
4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pourmand A, Liao J, Pines JM, Mazer-Amirshahi M. Segway® Personal Transporter-related injuries: a systematic literature review and implications for acute and emergency care. J Emerg Med. 2018;54(5):630-635. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2017.12.019

  2. Segway-Ninebot. Safety instruction.

  3. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Statement from U.S. CPSC chairman Elliot F. Kaye on the safety of hoverboards and the status of the investigation. 2016.

  4. U.S. Consumer Product Safely Commission. Hoverboard safety.

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.