A new Australian campaign is taking aim at parents who’d rather stream entertainment on their smart phones than keep an eye on their children around the pool.
According to the Royal Life Saving Society's Western Australia division, digital devices are a growing source of distraction. Aussie lifeguards have reported a number of near-misses while parents were engaged with their phones.
This series of posters encourages parents to put down their devices.Play slideshow
Gone are the days when moms and dads were only momentarily distracted with the occasional email or text message. Bad as that was, it’s even worse today as adult caretakers become engrossed in video games and shows on Netflix and Hulu. That’s why a 13-year-old public awareness effort called Watch Around Water is adopting a new strategy to curb the disturbing trend.
The way the program works is pretty ingenious: When caretakers log onto a pool’s Wi-Fi, they’re asked for a safety-related password designed to urge parents to think twice before using their device. Passwords can be found on posters around the facility featuring children holding signs with phrases such as “Watch_Me_Swim,” “Promise_To_Pay_Attention,” and “You_Are_My_Lifeguard.”
“Each week it changes, so parents have to type in a new password and be faced weekly with another reason as to why they should be watching their child rather than be on their phone,” said Lauren Nimmo, senior manager of health promotion and research with Royal Life Saving Society WA.
More than 120 pools are participating in Western Australia this summer. (Yes, it's summer Down Under.) The campaign, funded by the Leisure Institute of Western Australia Aquatics, underscores another important point: Lifeguards are not babysitters.
Says Nimmo: “Even though lifeguards are on duty, parents still have a crucial to play in keeping children safe – your child, your focus."