Kids Are Drowning Because Their Parents Are Distracted By Devices

"I had to point out to them their kid was under the water mid-argument."

In Australia, a country known for its love of water, children are drowning because parents are distracted by devices such as mobile phones.

Between 2002 and 2017, 447 children under the age of four drowned. Twenty two, or roughly 5 percent, of those deaths were a direct result of a failure to supervise due to the use of a device such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop, Royal Life Saving Australia told ten daily.

One hundred percent of unintentional child drownings (under the age of five)  occur in Australia because adult supervision is entirely absent or intermittent due to distraction, said RLSA.

Image: Getty Images

For those whose job it is to keep people safe in the water, it is "beyond frustrating" said Rebecca Barnacle, who has lifeguarded at pools across Sydney for five years.

"I've had an argument with a parent who said they were watching but weren't -- they were on their phone," she said.

"I had to point out to them their kid was under the water mid-argument"

Barnacle told ten daily she had pulled countless children out of pools whose parents had no idea they were drowning or at serious risk of drowning.

If lifeguards believe a parent isn't paying attention to their child they will often make them stand on the side of the pool until the parent realises, she said.

Image: Getty Images

"Most of the time it's minutes, which is more than enough time for a child to drown silently, which is how most children drown," Barnacle said.

Parents believe the lifeguards are there to act as a "babysitter service", but their role is to act in the case of a major emergency situation.

"Parents end up getting angry at us because we tell them off, but they have zero idea how many extreme risks are in a pool," she said.

A report released by the German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) found there was a direct correlation between parents on their phones and the number of children who drowned or been at risk of drowning.

Advice From Royal Live Saving Australia

RLSA gave ten daily some tips on how to protect children from drowning.

  • Actively supervise children who are in or around water.
  • Make sure there are barriers, such as fencing, around pools.
  • Swimming lessons so children are familiar with the water.
  • Learn CPR and first aid.

RLSA also provides further information about water safety and the level of supervision required by a child's age through its Keep Watch campaign.