A Brunswick Baths sign reminds parents to be parents.
A Brunswick Baths sign reminds parents to be parents.

Parents told to put down phones at pool

IT'S a sign of the times - parents so addicted to phones that they have to be reminded to supervise their children in the pool.

Brunswick Baths is among a raft of public pools in Melbourne erecting signs and posters with slogans like "Watch your child, not your mobile" due to rising drowning concerns.

Parents transfixed by their phones and oblivious to their children's attempts to show them a new swimming move are among scenes reported by pool users before the signs went up.

But life savers says device distraction can be deadly, with life guards increasingly having to fish out kids who are not being supervised by mums and dads.

The emotive signs are part of an awareness campaign called Watch Around Water run by Life Saving Victoria at aquatic facilities, aimed at reducing the number of fatal and non-fatal drownings and injuries in Victoria within the 0-14 year age group.

A Brunswick Baths sign reminds parents to be parents.
A Brunswick Baths sign reminds parents to be parents.

Some aquatic centres are also changing their passwords for public Wi-Fi to phrases like "watchyourchild" to ram home the message.

Andy Dennis, LSV's general manager of public training and pool safety, said about 170 public pools have registered for the campaign in Victoria.

"It's intended to raise the profile of the need for parents to supervise their children rather than expect lifeguards to do that job," Mr Dennis said.

"It started in Western Australia as there were too many instances of lifeguards having to rescue children who were not being properly supervised as mum and dad were on their phones.

"Unfortunately it's something that's very prevalent here as well. A lot of parents and guardians, if they look themselves in the mirror, have to acknowledge that they are on their phones rather than watching their kids in instances when they shouldn't be."

He said lifeguards often had to monitor multiple pools and could not be relied upon to look after every child.

And it's not just children's safety that's at risk.

One US study into the impact of parents' smart phone use on infants aged 7 to 24 months found they expressed more "distress" and were less exploratory when their parents were glued to their phones.

This story was first published in today's mX Zero, brought back to you by Carlton Zero. Grab your copy from 3pm at Flinders St, Southern Cross, City Loop and Richmond stations.