With summer just around the corner in Australia, a disturbing report out of Germany has found parents and grandparents are so distracted by their mobile phones that their kids are drowning at beaches, near lakes and rivers or at swimming pools.
German lifeguards have been forced to issue an urgent warning to distracted parents, following more than 300 drownings in the country this year alone. According to The Guardian, hardly a day has passed throughout the European heatwave where someone hasn’t drowned.
The German Lifeguard Association, which provides 40,000 lifeguards across Germany’s beaches, lakes and coastlines, said there’s a direct link between children getting into trouble in the water and parents who are too fixated on their mobile devices to notice their kids are in trouble.
“Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away,” German Lifeguard Association spokesperson Achim Wiese told the publication.
It’s also claimed that parents and grandparents are spending less time with their children and grandchildren in swimming pools, with an increased number of people spending their time on their phones, completely oblivious to what their child is doing.
The organisation also suggested that schools are to blame for not introducing swimming lessons to children from a young age, while families are becoming too busy to fit swimming lessons into their schedule.
It’s a similar problem in Australia, with a recent report by Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RSLA) linking distracted adults to 86 per cent of child drownings in public and commercial pools. Worryingly, many adults were using their phones when a child slipped under the water and lost consciousness.
RSLA previously told Starts at 60 that parents using phones, texting and answering emails need to remain vigilant and keep their head up with eyes on their children.
“Phones are just one of the distractions we see in drowning incidents involving young children. It’s easy for parents to become distracted, particularly in a busy aquatic centre with lots of noise and excitement,” RLSA senior research officer Alison Mahony said. “Things like checking emails and texts, changing another child’s nappy or having a conversation with another parent is enough time for a child to slip away unnoticed and get into trouble.”
The report also found that in addition to lack of supervision, pre-existing medical conditions and a lack of swimming ability and water safety knowledge also played a role in fatal drownings.
“Research shows that parents and carers need ongoing reminders about the importance of active adult supervision,” Scarr added. “We encourage all facilities to contact Royal Life Saving to become a program partner, and receive a range of resources for water safety.”
The latest push for pool safety comes just decades ago where kids were free to explore creeks, beaches and other water without being supervised.